The real boob here was the host, Seth MacFarlane. If “the hook” still existed from its vaudeville days, the first line or two of his “I saw your boobs” song (using the word extremely loosely) would have warranted putting it into play.
The Academy’s membership and its viewing demographic skew upward, into the mature and elderly. They know they need to reach a younger, more diverse audience. Instead they seemed to have decided that all they need is to reach teen age boys on testosterone binges, the kids who flock to gross out comedies, horror films and action movies. MacFarlane gave that group lots to laugh at, but noting the aghast expressions, cut short by the show’s producers who must have realized the reaction shots were of appalled female stars who couldn’t believe their ears, Captain Kirk’s judgments were being born out as he tried to jokingly side step the disaster Kirk warned of.
How to fix it? Apart from banishing MacFarlane back to juvenline TV shows, the Academy should do 3 things:
1. Downplay the host role. At best the canned humor and ad libs pale compared to solid stand up comedy.
2. Play up the movie role. Give more time to the films celebrated. Show more clips, but in the spirit of the now ubiquitous but seemingly unknown to the Academy Bonus Material on DVDs. Add commentary by participants, add interviews and voice-over, add “making of” coverage and behind the scenes moments. Help viewers appreciate the magic that lies within all great or even really good films.
3. Banish “thank you” from the winners’ vocabulary. How can anyone hunger to hear winner after winner thank people we have never heard of? As one winner said this time, “I will be thanking the people who helped win this over the next two weeks,” as well all winners should. Let winners Thank the Academy. Period. Let them say a few words about what they did or how they did it, or what working on the film was like, or how it came about, or what was most challenging or rewarding. Let them share with us something of what brought them to the stage in terms of what they did. And then let them exit with dignity, not with fanfares of trite music as if they were uninvited party crashers.
These three changes along with banishing buffoonery from the show will make The Oscars the kind of “inside” celebration, which, once shared “outside” the industry in a live television broadcast will linger in our minds as something memorable and not because it’s a disturbing demonstration of how many boobs it takes to mess up a potentially great show.