Oscar night. An evening when people across the planet tune in to witness the toast of Tinseltown don their finest threads and paste on their plastic smiles, in anticipation of joining the elite inner circle of those with their fingers firmly gripping the golden guy.

Regarded as the most momentous occasion on the cinematic calendar, the Academy Awards are the most-watched annual prize-giving ceremony on television. Or at least, they used to be.

Sunday night’s affair may have seen a slight increase in viewership figures (the validation for this as hit-and-miss as host Seth MacFarlane’s attempts at farce).

The reality remains, however, that interest in the event has steadily waned since the timeless Titantic’s multi-nominations in 1998 guaranteed millions would be glued to their screens to watch this box-office breakout win.

The revolving-door line-up of mediocre MCs since the brilliant Billy Crystal hung up his hat (his post-retirement stint last year notwithstanding) hasn’t helped. But that’s not the only problem plaguing ol’ Oscar.

When he made his debut in 1929, he was the equivalent of a solo performer on a worldwide stage. His annual appearance marked the one occasion when the god-like glamazons of the industry would emerge and afford us plebs a brief glimpse into their enigmatic existence.

Since then, though, Mr O has had to contend with having other central players added to the bill, in the form of the Baftas, the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards and the Golden Globes, thereby dimming his spotlight.

What’s more, the sense of mystique that once encircled the celebs has all but vanished, now that we are privy to every morsel of information – factual or otherwise – pertaining to their private lives.

And while this year the public had actually heard of the motion pictures that ultimately took top honours, the past decade has revealed a troubling pattern whereby the films that win are ones which the majority of movie-going audiences have never seen – nor, for that matter, would they care to.

Throw in the manner in which rapidly evolving technology is forever altering the way we consume entertainment-driven material, or the fact most members of the Academy’s 6 000-plus voting board are over 50 (read: out of touch with modern trends), and the glaring question we’re left with is: Have the Oscars become obsolete?



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