Award shows have always been a huge topic amongst social media users, especially in regards to their lack of diversity in guests, winners, and movies. This year’s Oscars were no exception in their ability to get people talking. Hosted on March 27, 2022, the Oscars award show featured a number of changes that viewers were not expecting, many of which did not match the Oscar’s prestigious reputation and brought inconsistency to the award show. The rebrand of the Oscars is considered a downgrade by many and displays the Academy’s lack of effort to listen to viewers. As PR professionals, it’s important to see what not to do when it comes to rebranding.
Even if you didn’t watch the Oscars, you likely heard about it on social media. “The Slap” Will Smith gave Chris Rock for the offensive joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia was the highlight of the night. This violent act was streamed on live television for the world to witness and is a great indication of how things have certainly changed for this award show.
The Oscars rebranded their entire show, and it felt like a mix of the Grammys and a live streamed award such as the Streamy’s. It was awkward and made no sense at some parts, especially when they played multiple anniversary videos of movies such as James Bond. While watching the graphics that showed up on the screen, I felt as if I was watching a YouTube Top 10 video that looked too basic for the Oscars. The previous years’ graphics were cleaner and more elegant, reflecting previous tendencies of the award show as a whole.
The beginning of the show began with a performance from Gen Z’s beloved Beyoncé, which was probably a way for the Academy to gain more viewers and appeal to Gen Z; however, after a few minutes into the performance, it felt more like a Grammys performance due to the performance’s high budget and it being filmed off stage.
Meanwhile, the performance of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s Encanto cast was oddly quiet and did not match viewers’ expectations. Social media users said they expected the performance to be more upbeat with the music, but it disappointed viewers.
Before the live show started, the Oscars decided to present eight categories of awards off camera and announce them solely on social media. This made social media viewers furious as those artists worked hard for this award and were not given their moment of recognition on camera like the other award winners would later be given.
The show’s hosts were Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes. While this strange grouping began their introductions, they were interrupted by DJ Khaled, which was — to say the least — weird. Social media users questioned why DJ Khaled was invited in the first place as he hadn’t put out new music or produced music for any movie. Viewers were left wondering about the reasoning behind who attended the Oscars this year. After the strange interruption, Amy Schumer’s jokes were praised for being amusing and making the audience laugh; however, Twitter users later uncovered that Schumer had stolen these jokes.
Wanda Sykes’ pre-taped bit about visiting the new Academy Museum was one of my favorite parts of the night. Sykes told humorous jokes and poked fun at both fellow actors and the academy’s troubled past. As Vanity Fair points out, “choppy transitions, unnecessary and badly framed wanders into the audience, and a DJ spinning easy-listening beats” were just some of the strange choices the Oscars made when transitioning between categories or commercial breaks. The band played off winners mid-speech, which was especially prominent during Drive My Car director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s speech. Similar to the winners of off-screen awards, this was unfair and disrespectful.
The best picture nominees were not announced, but instead presented individually in a sizzle reel. This felt more like a commercial than something that would typically be seen at the Oscars. Further, the Oscars award show felt like it was hurrying through each category to finish the show earlier, making it feel like “a chore rather than an obligation,” as Vanity Fair described.
With these many changes, it is clear ABC and the Academy have no idea where the future of the award show is going. It felt like they were trying to modernize the Oscars with the performances from more popular artists, yet it wasn’t put together in a cohesive manner.
The viewership numbers of this award show have gradually decreased due to rumors of it being “rigged” and having lack of diversity amongst its nominees and winners. The Grammys has stayed more relevant due to it embracing more diversity, new talent, streamline editing and graphics, and bringing better entertainment value to viewers and guests. The Oscars should look to the Grammys and see how they are able to modernize while also sticking to its roots.
As an award show that has been around for 94 years, it is time for a change within the Oscars. Still, only certain areas of the show should be modified opposed to the whole show. I think the disaster of the Oscars was due to making too many changes at once, causing it to seem unfamiliar and strange for those who have watched it for many years. The Oscars is built up to be the most prestigious and anticipated entertainment award show of the year and having them downgrade this much is truly a disappointment. Hopefully, next year’s Oscars will rediscover their roots and make the appropriate changes to keep its reputation while meeting the modern desires of viewers.
Guenevere Chin is a senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) studying advertising and marketing communications. She is a member of FIT’s PRSSA Chapter, the Asian Student Network, and Film Club. She has interned at H&S Communications Agency and Zit Sticka in New York. She would like to work in the entertainment industry in public relations and eventually become a film director to tell stories, show the world her perspective, and — most importantly — inspire others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.