The Oscars Need to Stop Cutting People Off
Multiple winners missed their opportunity to speak entirely during Sunday night's broadcast
Last year, the Oscars cut eight categories — documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live action short and sound — from their live broadcast in an attempt to trim the show’s notoriously long run-time. It did not go over well. Devoted movie fans complained, noting how unfair it was that the people nominated in these categories didn’t get their moment in the sun. The Academy actually listened to the negative feedback, and this year it returned all eight categories to the live ceremony.
That was the right thing to do, but it of course means that the Oscars were once again pressed for time, and unfortunately the folks in those lesser-known categories were once again had to bear the brunt of the problem. The “get off the stage” music used to play people off when their acceptance speeches run long was especially aggressive this year, with several non-famous winners — the majority of whom were women or people of color — getting cut off entirely before they could speak.
Judy Chin, co-winner of the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for her work on The Whale, waited patiently onstage while her collaborators spoke before walking up to the mic for her turn and immediately getting shut down by the loud music. Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Mongadouble, two Indian filmmakers who won the Best Documentary Short Film award for The Elephant Whisperers, also had their time onstage abruptly cut short by the music.
The most frustrating part of this, however, is that it sure seemed like BIPOC women were the ones being denied an opportunity to speak while their white, male counterparts were allowed to ramble on as long as they pleased. Right after Gonsalves and Mongadouble were played off, for example, Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud — winners in the Best Animated Short Film category — were able to deliver their entire speeches uninterrupted. Can we really applaud the Academy’s efforts to embrace diversity and honor deserving winners like Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan when the non-white people with less name recognition are being forced to shut up and remain in the shadows?
Yes, the Oscars always run long, and yes, there needs to be some sort of system in place to prevent someone from hijacking the stage and turning their acceptance speech into a 30-minute monologue. But the rules need to apply to everyone. And there has to be a way to make room for every winner to get up and say a few words. If we’re really pressed for time, why not cut the stupid comedy bits about Cocaine Bear or Jimmy Kimmel bothering Malala? Most people would rather see someone who is passionate about what they do finally achieve a life-long dream than sit through another cringey “Uma, Oprah” moment. And unlike with the Best Actor and Actress nominees who have been doing press for their movies for months now, we so rarely get the opportunity to hear from the creators in the smaller categories. Cutting the guy in the bear suit and giving them 30 seconds to say thank you is the least the Academy can do.
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