I Hated The Oscars, But Not For The Reason You Think

Whatever happened to class?

So we can all agree last night’s Academy Awards was a colossal clusterfudge. They basically had one job and managed to screw it up, despite millions of dollars, a horde of producers, and the folks at Pricewaterhouse keeping them honest.

But it wasn’t the Best Picture gaffe that upset me. Mistakes happen—especially on live television. My beef with last night’s ceremony was how the whole thing felt more like the Teen Choice Awards than the dazzling, regal ceremony it should be. (I half-expected Emma Stone to get slimed.)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  (L-R) Actors Mahershala Ali, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Casey Affleck pose in the press room at the 89th annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

In recent years, producers have gone out of their way to democratize the Oscars—whether its Ellen DeGeneres ordering pizza or Jimmy Kimmel trucking in tour groups.

And I hate it.

For me, the Oscars are the closest we have in this country to a coronation. I want to feel like I’m in the presence of royalty, not my Uncle Larry. I want to hear actors intone imperiously about the role of artists in society. I want to see nominees in dresses so severe they give them nosebleeds. (Note to gentlemen: Stop trying to make sneakers with tuxedos happen.)

I want David Niven, not David Spade.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  Costume designer Colleen Atwood (C), winner of the award for Costume Design for 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,' poses with presenters Kate McKinnon (L) and Jason Bateman poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

And while I get that presenters are often people who have projects coming up, it felt like they went out of their way to pick actors who would never otherwise be associated with the Academy Awards. I love Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman, but is the DVD release of Office Christmas Party really an Oscar-caliber event? Does anyone thing Dwayne Johnson’s Baywatch movie is going to win anything (except for maybe a Golden Razzie)? Aren’t there serious movies coming out? Couldn’t you get Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon to present? Hell, what’s Julia Roberts doing on a Sunday night?

Beatty’s appearance was actually one of the highlights of the ceremony for me. it was a throwback to Hollywood’s heyday, when we viewed stars like him and Faye Dunaway as glamorous and inscrutable. Now we get Tilda Swinton reading mean tweets about herself.

Listen, Academy: Celebrities are not just like you and me. They are gods and goddesses who blank out the sun with their brilliance. They don’t eat Junior Mints, they don’t take selfies on stage, and they don’t go to the bathroom when their name is called. If we can’t have an Oscars ceremony that’s majestic, I at least hope someone was flogged for last night’s debacle.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.