If there’s anything to be said of the state of the Academy Awards over the past few years, it’s that Oscar has been experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. In his old age (84, to be exact) Oscar is ping-ponging between wanting to remain the classy, albeit somewhat stodgy gold standard of awards shows in the entertainment world and desperately hoping to fit in with the cool kids.
The results have proved to be erratic, at best. By changing their voting system into a much more complicated nomination process, they’ve alienated old school Oscar purists (not to mention let arguably less deserving films, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, sneak their way into the once-coveted Best Picture race.) When they attempted to pull in younger audiences in 2011 by having James Franco and Anne Hathaway host, they proved just how current and hip they were by rewarding the movie that defined that very generation… The King’s Speech.
While MTV has undoubtedly changed their programming format over the past few years, one thing they’ve remained steadfast with is the MTV Movie Awards. A reliably entertaining show, the MTV Movie Awards not only knows its audience, but understands the importance if it ain’t broke, don’t fix. They’ve kept their voting the same (done by the fans) and they’ve kept their identity in tact (thanks to categories like Best Kiss and Best Fight.)
The Oscars will never be the MTV Movie Awards, and nor should they be. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t learn something from their youthful counterpart. Here now, five things the Academy Awards can learn from the MTV Movie Awards:
Popularity Contests Aren’t Necessarily a Bad Thing
This is a tricky tightrope to walk with awards shows. On one hand, it opens up your show to a much wider audience. On the other hand, it looks like you’re disregarding worthy pieces of art for something that goes down easier for the masses. The Golden Globes have run into this issue time and time again. While they have the necessary comedy categories for films, they often use those to nominate movie stars, rather than performances. (Ahem, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in The Tourist.) The Oscars haven’t quite learned how to master this yet, either. After their glaring omission of Dark Knight in the Best Picture race, they changed their voting rules to make way for more mainstream fare (hence, The Blind Side.) Only, worthy mainstream fare like Bridesmaids and Harry Potter have been shut out and more “Oscar-friendly” films have continued to find their way in. This isn’t to suggest that the Oscars should pull an MTV Movie Award and nominate Twilight or The Hunger Games for Best Picture (well, maybe Hunger Games). MTV nominates the movies that impacted their audiences over the past year. The Academy should be no means stop nominated worthy films like Winter’s Bone, because those are the movies that made an impact on people who love movies. But, hey, so did Bridesmaids.
Music is Actually Really Important
Sure, it makes more sense, on paper, for MTV to feature live musical performances during their shows. It’s a music network, after all. (Well, it’s still in the name, anyway.) If there was one lingering complaint about the 2012 Oscar ceremony, it was the bare bones Best Song category the elimination of the musical performances. No Muppets? No mercy! Awards shows with no musical numbers can feel a little bit like a movie with no soundtrack.
Movies are an undeniably important art form in our society. They open us up to worlds and cultures and ways of thinking that we may have never experienced otherwise. They are both a great unifier and total escapism. The 2012 Academy Awards featured a series of montages about why movies are the most important thing on the planet and rewarded a movie about someone who felt the exact same way. While there’s nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back and rewarding those who make important works of art, it’s refreshing to step back and have a little perspective. And the MTV Movie Awards is nothing but a little perspective on movies.
Short, But Sweet For Certain
Sure, this is a universal complaint about most awards shows, but when it comes to keeping a two-hour running time, the MTV Movie Awards have stuck to it almost to the minute. If the Oscars this year felt incredibly long this year, it’s because it was. (3 hours and 13 minutes, to be exact.) MTV knows they have a certain amount of time allotted and they fill it with exactly what they need. If they gave themselves a strict deadline to stick to, the Oscars could finally give us what we all want: a reasonable bedtime.
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