#OscarsSo…

by Steve Karandy (@skarandy)

Are you watching the Oscars® tonight?

From the activity on social media, it sure seems like a lot of people are paying attention.  Just try keeping up with the twitter feed on a search for #oscars.

While many view the Academy Awards ceremony each year as a vainglorious display of over-paid, self-obsessed celebrities patting themselves on the back for another fine year by handing out gold-plated men for movies that just play to the status quo (and, quite often, rightfully so), millions of people around the world tune in to the show, which makes it a forum for many points of view.  Even more so in the age of social media.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was created by the major movie studios in order to promote their product.  But as the awards ceremony, and the red carpet parade, became the show, artists would use the event as a platform for espousing their cause.  Actors rejected their awards in protest of the Academy itself or the treatment of Native Americans.  Awards winners and presenters used the spotlight to highlight causes such as the treatment of HIV sufferers or the Chinese occupation in Tibet.  But today, people don’t need to appear on the show to get their message to the audience for the awards.  They can simply talk about it on social media, and reach the entire world.

#OscarsSoWhite was posted on Twitter by April Reign back in 2015 to highlight the lack of diversity of the artists begin nominated for awards.  The hashtag became so prominent online, and created such a wide conversation about the lack of opportunities for people of color in the film industry, that the Academy actually changed how it elects members and how they vote on the awards.  There was the hope that this would increase diversity in the Academy itself, which was known for being predominantly old, white, and male, which would then lead to more diversity in nominations.  While the numbers have gotten better, there still is a long way to go.  But still, the change caused by a single person on Twitter was profound.

When Harvey Weinstein, a powerful movie producer, was finally publicly accused of being a sexual predator (it was one of Hollywood’s worst kept “secrets“), actress Alyssa Milano encouraged fellow victims of harassment and assault to tweet #MeToo.  If tweets made noise, the resulting chorus of #MeToo’s would have been deafening.  The conversation spread all across social media, and lead to the creation of Time’s Up.  Again, a single voice on social media lead to (hopefully) a revolution in how people are treated in the workplace.

But it’s not all inspirational conversation surrounding the awards.  Various people on social media use the platform to excoriate the Academy, and the whole of “liberal” media, about issues as varied as gun control, men’s rights, and the perceived(?) persecution of the President:

 

The Oscars.®  You may not be watching it, but people sure are talking about it.

This Article Has 12 Comments
  1. Kristle says:

    #OscarsSoWhite was one the the first viral sensations on social media that I cared about. Asian Americans are nearly always white-washed out of major Hollywood films. Black and Latinos are shown in stereotypical forms or as a background character with no plot except to support the White Hero. I always felt that representation was lacking, but seeing so many people take part in a movement validated my feelings and urged me to take part in the movement. Social media connects us in that way, and it is why I am a proponent in using social media platforms to further the awareness and agenda of social justice movements.

  2. Jerome Pizzelli says:

    I really liked how you made the point that people may not be watching the Oscars but people are still talking about it. Social media has changed the way everyone views various conversations to spark change whether. It was interesting to look at how in recent years with #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite has transformed the way people have responded. Many people have different opinions and that can’t be helped but if its looked at as compared to social media or even when it was first starting social issues have had light shed on them which has actually sparked change. All in all I thought it was a good read and very informative.

  3. Kelsey Scott says:

    I absolutely love your point that millions of people around the world tune in to watch the Oscars, making it a forum for diverse points of view, especially now with the ability to share ideas on social media outlets. I personally did not watch The Oscars when #OscarsSoWhite became a prominent topic of discussion, yet I still was still quickly exposed to the movement on social media, which proves your point that social media outlets act as a quick catalyst for social movements and particular points of view. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, Steve!

  4. Hayden Skoch says:

    Hi Steve! As someone who watches the Oscars annually, and engages with related social media to the event, I thought this post was relevant and accurate. One thing I thought was particularly interesting were the tweets you included in the post. I think that it’s important to note that while many viewers and fans are inspired by the political movements in the entertainment industry, others find it hypocritical for actors to take a stance in this setting. Social media can be a powerful way to create change in the entrainment industry, however, it can also bring to light the inequalities and misinformed options that skills exist.

  5. Rachel Hanks says:

    I think many of us are familiar with hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite and #TimesUp so it was interesting to see some of the other hashtags related to the Oscars, particularly those opposed to the Academy Awards and the movements mentioned above. I think it’s valuable to know various opinions surrounding a topic. Additionally, for all of us studying social media, this blog post is a good reminder that SM gives everyone a platform to share their opinions and certainly exposes sentiment from all sides of an argument or topic.

  6. Mollie Markey says:

    Hi Steve. I watch the Oscars every year and love keeping up on Twitter to see what people are saying. While I admit I do not usually engage in conversations, I find it interesting to sit behind my screen and read the latest trending tweets regarding the Oscars. Social media, Twitter in particular, offers a great platform for movements such as #TimesUp and #OscarsSoWhite for celebrities to comment on their personal beliefs regarding these movements. I love Twitter for the sole purpose of interacting with people and learning a personal feelings about issues of people, celebrities in this case, that you would not normally interact with.

  7. Jordyn Volk says:

    Hi Steve, great post. I am a big Oscars and award season fan. I love live-tweeting and joining into the popular conversations that happen around the night, but there’s part of me that just wants to sit and enjoy it for a few hours without thinking about everything that is wrong with the Oscars (which is a lot of stuff). Maybe next year I will try to stay off social media during the near-four hour broadcast and see if that makes a difference in the way I perceive it.

  8. Sophia Meyer says:

    I feel as though the recent political climate has made people feel as if they have to address these issues on popular media, such as SNL and awards shows, because they have a large platform and they want to spread their message to a wide range of people. I do know, however, that this causes a lot of conservatives to avoid watching these shows, because they know that the tone is going to be political and they want to avoid it. I see where people are coming from, that they simply want to watch an awards show and not have to deal with the stress of politics. But I also see why celebrities feel as if they have a duty to spark conversation at this sort of event.

  9. Kelsey Fagan says:

    Great post Steve! You’re writing style made this topic an easier read but the underlying effects are right on the mark and very serious. I personally don’t like watching award shows because I find them terribly boring, but I did check out Twitter while they were going on. It’s easier to watch the online conversation than the actual show because you are getting more opinions and commentary that is a bit more relatable. The #OscarsSoWhite and then the #MeToo movement are great examples of how social media can move mountains and make an impact on the digital world. I think it’s also much easier to talk about subjects like these online where you can discuss and connect with people around the world that have your same opinion/views. It’d be near impossible to do so in your physical community. The power of social media is growing and this is a great example of that.

  10. Mikayla Edwards says:

    Hi Steve! Thank you for writing about this topic as I am not one for awards shows. I’ve actually never watched the Oscars but I noticed social media was blowing up the night of the event. I really enjoyed reading about this because I am not involved in the conversation, it was nice to read about it in a simpler sense. Social media is an incredible tool for making your voice heard as was shown through the #MeToo movement. Very nice topic and great post!

  11. Jesse Walker says:

    It’s been very interesting to see things like the Oscars become increasingly political. I think there is a place in Hollywood for politics because the people have so much influence and can make a lot of good change. It’s hard to determine what type of influence is right and how involved Hollywood should actually be. Also, I’m really glad I didn’t follow #oscars on twitter because it would’ve been impossible to keep up with…

  12. Audrey Marlatt says:

    I loved how you touched on the #OscarsSoWhite because when I think about that, the two actresses come to mind that had a whole little back and forth commentary on how the Oscars used to be so white but now they’re being threatened and maybe the oscars is too black! Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudloph They made hilarious commentary about how the viewers shouldn’t worry and feel threatened by how many minorities had been nominated for awards because most likely everyone backstage and works behind the scenes so they shouldn’t worry. The New York times wrote an article asking if their comedic banter would make for good television as 2019 Oscars hosts (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/movies/tiffany-haddish-maya-rudolph-oscars.html). Guess we’ll have to tune in next year to see!

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