Update: So, I finally won the family Oscar pool. I got 22 of 24 right here, which is a family record … and I have to admit having some mixed emotions about it. The only two i missed were Live Action Short Film (Helium beat The Vrooman Problem — that was a toss-up going in) and Animated Short Film (I just KNEW Get A Horse wasn’t going to win but I didn’t know what else to pick). That means I got every single category for feature length movies right. And while that’s cool and all … I shouldn’t be able to to do that. The Oscars have become too predictable. I’m not sure what can be done about that, but it does cut into the fun.
Two other thoughts about the Oscars broadcast: One, I’m an Ellen Degeneres fan. I think she’s very funny and it’s interesting to watch her brain work. Her opening at the Oscars was pretty strong, I thought. And she’s just very likable. That said: I have no idea what happened after that open. It honestly looked like she and the writers wrote the opening monologue and then said, “OK Ellen, we’re done here. You just kind of wing it from there.” The producers literally had her just walking through the crowd and ad-libbing. This led to not one, not two, but three separate scenes involved with her ordering pizza. Apparently this concept — ordering pizza at the Oscars! Hey Brad Pitt you have any money! — was so comic-rich that they couldn’t leave it alone.
This improv at the Oscars also led to her taking the selfie that she said made history by crashing Twitter — like Twitter has never crashed before. I will admit the selfie did lead to one bit of gold — Meryl Streep happily shouting “I’ve never tweeted before!” after the photo was taken. I’m pretty convinced she thought the act of taking that picture was “Tweeting.” Which is awesome. Meryl Streep shouldn’t know how to Tweet. It’s part of what makes her glorious. But pizza and selfies? At the Oscars? Did the writers just decide to cut out early?
My other thought is sort of sports related: You have probably heard the line that a billion people around the world watch the Oscars. I believe Degeneres brought it up during the broadcast — the host almost always does. I’ve heard that line countless times and you probably have too — a billion people watch the Oscars! I honestly never questioned it, which is the point here.
As The New Yorker pointed out, there’s no way a billion people watch the Oscars. Nothing CLOSE to a billion people watch the Oscars. And here’s the kick in the head: We intuitively KNOW that a billion people don’t watch the Oscars, we utterly and completely know it, but we keep repeating this bit of nonsense because … well, because we just do. We keep repeating it for the same reason that people keep repeating that pitching is 90% of baseball or that time of possession is a key to winning football games. It’s somehow stuck in our heads.
As Daniel Radosh points out, 43.5 million Americans watch the Oscars. Think about that for a second — the Oscars would have to get 950-plus million people OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES to get a billion. Uh, that’s ridiculous. It’s more than ridiculous. It’s irrational. When I mentioned this to family, one said: Well, I guess a lot of Chinese people watch the Oscars. Uh … no. By best estimates, last year, seven million or so watched in China. Still 950 million to go.
The Oscars are huge and they are broadcast in 150-plus countries and that is not to be under-appreciated. But a billion? Stop already. There probably are not a quarter of a billion people around the world who watch. Also, dinosaurs didn’t turn into oil.