This past weekend, awards season came to a close with the grand finale: The Academy Awards. With big winners all around in films like “Green Book,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Black Panther,” not to mention the plethora of talented Hollywood stars studding the event, it was almost easy to forget that there was something (or someone) missing from the show. However, as anyone who has been following news in the entertainment industry over the past few months knows, there was a big icon missing from the 91st Academy Awards in the form of the host.
Back in December, it was first announced that comedian and actor Kevin Hart would be hosting the 2019 Oscars. However, as so often happens when a celebrity is brought out into the spotlight, bad publicity quickly struck. Hart’s Twitter history was quickly unearthed and along with it came some homophobic and insulting tweets towards the LGBTQ+ community. Despite the fact that these tweets were several years old, many people quickly became outraged at the idea of having Hart host the event. Due to this, Hart released messages through his Instagram initially explaining that he had grown and changed as a person, followed by a video in which he apologized for his words and was stepping down from hosting the Academy Awards. Hart cited this decision was due to his desire to not “be a distraction” from the talent that should be celebrated at the Oscars.
Unfortunately, after this decision was made, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seriously struggled to find a new host, to the point where they ended up forgoing the role altogether. However, this change may not have been as unfortunate as some expected. Since the award show this past weekend, there have been many contradicting opinions on how the ceremony went without a host to keep it on track and help it along.
Preliminary reviews of the awards show seemed to show that many critics enjoyed the fact that there was no host, as it led to a tighter, faster show. Award shows are notorious for dragging on for hours, leaving viewers bored, especially with drab and unfunny hosts. Without an opening monologue and introductions for those who are announcing winners, the whole show seemed to run much more smoothly. Additionally, reports showed that ratings from this year’s Academy Awards increased for the first time in five years, and a survey done by TVLine showed that 79 percent of readers actually preferred having a host-less show.
On the other hand, some critics found that having no host lead to chaos and clutter during the show, which is normally cleaned up by the host leading the evening. A host also adds personality (sometimes) and without a central voice to the Academy Awards, some felt that the evening was boring. However, some would argue that it is boring to watch celebrities get dressed up and flaunt their fame regardless of whether there is someone in charge.
Whether or not you believe the Academy Awards needed a host, it is interesting to note how the political tone of an award show is changed by the presence of a host, or in this case the lack thereof. While Kevin Hart was initially said to add diversity to the show, following a common critique in years prior that the Academy Awards were whitewashed, his removal from the show was just as politically charged. We don’t always think of the entertainment industry as being a place for politics. In fact, some attend movies in order to escape today’s political climate. However, when instances like this arise, it reminds us how inescapable differences of political opinion are in every sector of life.
If a condensed, more watchable award show was the goal in removing Kevin Hart from the Oscars, then Hollywood definitely achieved that. However, if this decision was made in the hopes of lessening the political conversation and comments at the Oscars, then officials will have to try again next year.
Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.