Here’s why I am among few still loving Oscars

By Ernie Williamson

The Bulletin


By now you are undoubtedly tired of the “slap seen around the world.”


After all, it did seem that the Academy Awards incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock received more media attention than Putin’s bombs falling on Ukraine.


But I can’t resist talking about the 94th Academy Awards, even if they are old news. I am, you see, one of the dwindling few who still watches the show.


This year’s Oscars show attracted 15.36 million viewers. Although greater than last year’s historic low of 10.4 million, the number of viewers is still the second-lowest on record.


The broadcast hit its peak in 1998, when 55.2 million tuned in to watch “Titanic” sweep the awards. The show has struggled ever since.


Social media indicates many people find the show too long and too boring.


But above all, many find the show elitist and not culturally relevant.


That, however, is precisely why I still watch the show. I no longer care who wins. Maybe it is the journalist in me, but there are few things I enjoy more than watching celebrities make spectacles of themselves.


I long for a scandal. A controversy.


I tune in to see who looks the silliest on the Red Carpet, makes the dumbest acceptance speech or commits the most embarrassing faux pax.


I wasn’t always like this. I used to care who won the acting awards and the award for best picture.


That, I suspect, is largely because I grew up in a place where the Oscars were important.

I grew up in Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles and the home of major studios such as MGM. It was a company town. The movies were part of our lives.


An MGM back lot was just across the street. I warned sleepover guests not to worry if they heard explosions in the middle of the night. It was simply a studio on the back lot filming a scene from Combat, the television series.


As teenagers, we would go to the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and cruise Sunset Boulevard, looking for stars.


Years later, returning on a visit to my parents’ home, I noticed a commotion at the big municipal pool I had spent hours in as a boy.


I went to look. There was something that looked like a submarine in the pool.


Then I recognized two faces. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington were filming “Crimson Tide.”


For years while living in Houston, I maintained my fascination with the movies. My wife and I would try to watch all pictures nominated for Best Picture, even if it meant driving to the historic River Oaks Theater to see some unpromoted independent films.


But then the pandemic hit and television and moviegoing underwent radical changes. It became harder to keep up. This year I had seen only two of the 10 nominees.


But I did watch the Oscars and waited for that one scandal or controversy. I wasn’t disappointed. I can’t wait till next year.


(Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)