The year without an Oscars host

Hypersensitivity in Hollywood has deterred entertainers from wanting to host the Oscars

%28Courtesy+of+the+official+Academy+Facebook+page%29
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The year without an Oscars host

(Courtesy of the official Academy Facebook page)

(Courtesy of the official Academy Facebook page)

(Courtesy of the official Academy Facebook page)

(Courtesy of the official Academy Facebook page)

By Nicole Bates, Collegian Correspondent

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According to Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the Oscars in 2013, hosting the event is “a gig that has all eyes on it.” Perhaps this is why no one wants to host the 91st Academy Awards this year. Kevin Hart, who was originally supposed to host the show, dropped out after facing scrutiny over past homophobic remarks. Now the Academy has decided to ditch having a host altogether, instead opting to have the first host-less Academy Awards ceremony in 30 years.

The decision to go host-less demonstrates how the current climate in Hollywood is hypersensitive to any controversy; nobody is even willing to risk taking on the burdensome task of hosting for fear of being criticized. Hosting the Oscars has always been a position that is very closely watched and hosts rarely make it out unscathed by audiences. However, in recent years as audience sensitivity has increased, hosts have been even more sharply judged for everything they do.

In the past, there were several hosts who returned to run the show numerous times; Billy Crystal hosted nine times and Bob Hope hosted 19 times. Now it seems the most any one person is willing to host is twice, as Chris Rock, Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres have done in the past. When DeGeneres was asked this year if she would step up to host the show after Hart dropped out, she responded, “it’s a thankless job, and coming on this late, it feels like that’s a really tough position to (be in).”

Despite the countless hours of work hosts put in to prepare to entertain millions on the biggest night in Hollywood, it seems they never please the audience. Each year the host gets some bad reviews; whether they were too risky or too bland, they can never seem to satisfy the audiences. The expectations that the hosts must live up to are nearly impossible to meet.

Adding on to the already existing pressure of hosting the Oscars, as ratings for the show have been dropping in recent years, the host has become a vital figure in attracting audiences to tune in to the show. In this day and age, where Netflix and other streaming platforms are taking over people’s entertainment consumption time, fewer people are paying attention to the films which the Academy Awards celebrate. Therefore, it is imperative the host is someone who will draw a lot of attention to the show.

The ideal host is someone well-known, appealing to a young audience and able to make jokes about the current state of affairs in Hollywood. They must be daring without being too political and they must be funny without being offensive. When Whoopi Goldberg, who has hosted the Oscars four times, volunteered to host this year, the Academy turned her down because they were “worried she’d be too political.”  On the contrary, many celebrities who may seem to be a perfect fit have actually turned down an offer for the job, such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld.

The problem the Academy is facing is that they are trying too hard to micromanage everything that will happen during the show, when it is actually the chaotic and unplanned moments that make the show interesting. Some of the most iconic Oscar moments are also some of the most controversial, such as the Best Picture mix-up between “La La Land”and “Moonlight” in 2017. We live in an age where edginess is rewarded, so rather than playing it safe and avoiding any risks, it is time the Academy embrace their show for what it is: a night that is bound to cause controversy.

One can never predict what will come across as offensive, and no matter what a host does there are always going to be people that don’t like their style. It is impossible to create a perfect show, so once the Academy accepts this and loosens up their expectations for the telecast, they may have an easier time finding someone willing to lead the show.

Regarding how the show will likely run this year without a host, the Academy needs to give up on their hopes to create a show that everyone watching will enjoy in its entirety. If they embrace the inevitable controversy they are likely to find more success. The telecast producers simply need to find a tasteful way to create inspired and entertaining moments, and the show will likely run smoothly with or without a host. If you are curious to see how the show turns out without a host, tune in to ABC on Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.

Nicole Bates can be reached at [email protected]