If the geniuses at the Motion Picture Academy think hiring Seth McFarlane as Oscars host will help bring in more young viewers (advertising money is all about the demographics), they’re wrong. It’s not the host that affects viewership, it’s the movies that are nominated and win.
This year, the Best Picture Oscar went to “The Artist,” a black and white silent movie that wasn’t exactly a smash with teens and twenty-somethings. Its competition included “The Descendants,” “The Tree Of Life,” and “Midnight In Paris” — all fine movies, but which drew an older crowd. Meryl Streep won for “The Iron Lady” and Christopher Plummer won for “Beginners,” two movies barely anyone saw, let alone the under-30 audience.
The Academy doesn’t nominate the type of movies with youth appeal — broad comedies and box-office blockbusters. The exception: “Titanic” in 1997, the biggest money-making movie of all time, which not-so-coincidentally helped the Oscars telecast draw its biggest-ever ratings. In the last few years, the Oscars even expanded the number of Best Picture nominees from five to nine or ten, then filled up those additional slots with other films more likely to enjoy long runs in an art house than in a multi-screen movieplex.
I’m not suggesting The Oscars become a popularity contest like the People’s Choice Awards, nor that there’s anything wrong with the movies that are nominated and win. I’m just pointing out that until the roster changes (which may mean waiting until older Academy members die off), there’s no hope of getting more young viewers — even with the director of a movie about a foul-mouthed teddy bear.