The Academy Awards are in the books for another year, and there wasn’t much in the way of surprises among the award winners. If you’ve been paying attention to all the other many awards shows thus far this year, you already know that a handful of films have claimed more or less all the major awards from Hollywood.
However, critics’ reviews of host Ellen DeGeneres’ performance seems to be mixed today. Some like Deadline.com’s Lisa de Moraes thought DeGeneres “reminded us she’s likeable as all get out, but her improvised bits did not work so well.” While others were a bit more charitable, like Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times who called DeGeneres “preternaturally congenial.” I only caught part of the show live last night and I would tend to agree with McNamara’s assessment.
But one name kept surfacing in all the discussion of last night’s show, and that was last year’s host, Seth MacFarlane – the creator of perennially offensive shows like “Family Guy.” Critics at the time slammed his off-color, offensive attempts at humor and the PTC was sharply critical of the show’s producers for their decision to have him host in the first place. Ellen’s performance stood in rather sharp contrast to MacFarlane’s.
And guess what happened as a result? The viewing audience responded with a 7% increase in viewership from last year, the largest Oscar audience in 10 years. Especially given the fact that the awards themselves held very little suspense, that is significant and very telling.
So let this be a lesson to future awards-show promoters: it’s better business to appeal to a wide audience rather than always to cater to what’s “edgy” – and all too often offensive to the audience.