The Oscars no longer matter. This is something that I've said multiple times on Twitter, it's something that I said on the most recent episode of Polygon's entertainment podcast, Cutscene, and it's now something I've said here.
The Oscars are outdated and biased, and in a world where films can be watched a hundred different ways — allowing audiences access to titles they never could have seen before — the Oscars are without a doubt behind the times.
The Oscars, however, are also on this weekend, and we should all be watching. Here's why.
Chris Rock is going to come out swinging
There are plenty of reasons to boycott watching the Oscars this year. The lack of recognition for minority actors and directors is embarrassing and outmoded. And with numerous actors themselves boycotting the awards, why should we be tuning in?
One of the main reasons that I'm going to be watching the Oscars on Sunday, one hand holding a slice of greasy pizza while the other furiously types opinionated tweets, is because of Chris Rock's opening monologue.
Rock, a controversial comedian by trade, has reportedly rewritten his entire opening monologue for the show to address the fact that not one person of color was nominated in an acting category. Unlike past hosts such as Billy Crystal, Steve Martin or Hugh Jackman — notice a trend there? — Rock isn't worried about pleasing the people who run the award ceremony, nor is he concerned about what people will say about his monologue the following day.
Much like when Rock made headlines for his choice of topics during his Saturday Night Live monologue in 2014, the Oscars will be nothing more than a stage for the comedian to voice his opinion on the controversy that has surrounded the award show for years.
It's something that Rock has promised in various ads for the show, too. He knows people are upset, and quite frankly, he's pretty pissed off, too. What better way for a comedian to acknowledge the travesty than use his captive audience to prove a point?
It's not the first time he'd be calling out the elite of Hollywood for their lack of diversity, either. Back when Rock hosted the show in 2005, the actor made a point to note that it seemed like only "white movies" were getting nominated, joking that it was because they had "real movie names" instead of "locations like barber shop."
The joke slayed, but if you watch the video of Rock's performance, it's clear that people in the audience are uncomfortable. After all, this is the Oscars, right? A place where actors should feel comfortable and not have to worry about facing criticism and scorn for their role in the humongous problems facing the industry?
Rock isn't going to sidestep the issue just so things aren't awkward. He's a comedian who thrives on the unsettled feeling that comes with the embarrassment of shame when truths are acknowledged.
This isn't going to be an easy monologue for the celebrities in attendance to sit through, but it shouldn't be.
It's going to be a slow-moving, deliberate calling out of the industry's current state, and it's going to be an event that we should all be watching.
Unlike most award show monologues, which lightly poke fun at celebrities' films or fashion choices, this is going to be a lesson that we can all learn from.
Here's why we need to watch
There's one other major reason to watch the Oscars this weekend, and that's because as much as the Oscars don't matter, not tuning into them means the Academy gets away with not having to worry about pleasing everyone.
If no one is watching the award show, why should the Academy have to change its ways? The members can live comfortably knowing that they're not being held accountable to anyone's standards other than their own.
That's not OK. The lack of minority actors and directors being recognized for their work is most certainly not OK.
So while the Oscars don't matter for us — as we'll all inevitably point out on Twitter while the show is on — it does matter for people within the film industry.
The show matters for actors and directors whose work may otherwise be overlooked because they aren't recognized by their own peers and colleagues.
For some reason, the Oscars still symbolize what and whom the Academy thinks is the crème de la crème of the industry. In turn, we are expected to believe the same thing. Think of your parents: They're probably not surfing through the back catalog of Netflix or other subscription services to find charming independent movies or captivating foreign dramas. Their opinion of what movies are worth seeking out and watching, for the most part, is based on award shows like the Oscars.
The lack of minority actors and directors being recognized for their work is most certainly not OK
We need to watch the Oscars so the Academy feels pressured to change its ways, and so more minority actors and directors are introduced to audiences that otherwise might not know them.
The Oscars don't matter, but we should make them matter again. They should reflect the society they claims to represent, and at this point in time, that's certainly not the case.
The Oscars don't matter, but they can and they should. The time for change has come.