Watching last night’s patchy Oscars ceremony, one issue stuck out like a sore thumb: the appalling practice of the orchestra ‘playing people off’, interrupting their acceptance speeches, mid-flow, in the interests of time management. This is standard practice at most big awards shows which are meticulously planned, and everyone expects it. But it seemed particularly unfair last night, for two reasons.
First, for some reason, the orchestra elected to play the Jaws theme, which made everyone laugh, but seems especially humiliating and uncharitable to the winners for whom this is the highlight of their career. And second, if they were really that strapped for time, there were so many superfluous, tedious, obnoxious, excruciating segments that could have been cut instead. Evidently, the show’s producers couldn’t tell the difference between wheat and chaff.
I’ve combed through the ceremony again and highlighted what I think are a few rather shabby disparities.
- Average time allowed for acceptance speeches: 1 minute
- Number of award categories: 12
- Time that Life of Pi‘s technical team were allowed to speak for their acceptance speech for Best Visual Effects before the Jaws theme started playing: 56 seconds
- Time that VFX artists spent protesting poor working conditions on the streets outside the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars were held: 4 hours
- Current worldwide box-office gross for Life of Pi: $583million
- Current status of Life of Pi‘s lead visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues: bankrupt
- Time that Anne Hathaway was allowed to speak for her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, without interruption: 2 minutes
- Anne Hathaway’s screen time in Les Misérables: 40 minutes
- Time Rhythm & Hues spent working on Life of Pi: 3 years
And here’s what the Academy thought deserved more time than acceptance speeches:
- Seth Macfarlane’s unfunny opening bit: 17 minutes
- Octogenarian William Shatner in unfunny opening bit (a bid to win young audiences?): 4 minutes 10 seconds
- Jaw-droppingly sexist showtune ‘We Saw Your Boobs’: 1 minute 36 seconds
- “James Bond tribute”: 6 minutes 10 seconds
- Seth Macfarlane’s Ted character getting some free advertising: 1 minute 50 seconds
- Tribute to “movie musicals of the last decade”, including Russell ‘Rusty’ Crowe lip-synching 11 minutes
- Barbara Streisand singing “The Way We Were” like a cruise ship entertainer: 3 minutes 30 seconds
- Michelle Obama’s bizarre, cliché-ridden appearance by satellite: 2 minutes 50 seconds
- Red carpet warm-up: TWO BLOODY HOURS
The Academy (and by extension, the industry at large) have always mistreated behind-the-camera crew, but this is just ridiculous. FOR SHAME, ACADEMY!