Side Note

Academy Awards formally recognize popular things are bad

Last month, the Academy Awards announced it would introduce a category for “outstanding achievement in popular film,” in 2019 as part of a series of moves intended to boost the ceremony’s continually flagging ratings. While the Academy didn’t elaborate what the criteria for the new category would be, the blowback was swift. Popular movies have never been ignored at the Oscars — box office blockbusters like Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, and Forrest Gump have scored plenty of gold in the past — but bad or even mediocre popular movies are left empty-handed because nobody really needs to pretend like Deadpool was a sterling artistic achievement.

Today, the Academy announced it will reverse course on the planned category. “There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement provided to The Los Angeles Times. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years — including this year — and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Who knows what inspired the decision, but a whiff of conspiracy had surrounded the category from the beginning. More than one person pointed out that a frontrunner for the award would likely beBlack Panther, whose parent company Marvel happens to be owned by Disney, which also happen to own ABC... the network that televises the Oscars. The process probably wouldn’t have been so cut-and-dry, but now we can all avoid the secondhand embarrassment of watching Hollywood’s highest paid clap for a movie they’ve admitted isn’t as good as the better ones. If the ratings continue to go down, we can expect a retread of the idea for 2020.