The Oscars are back, and this year, they may have just featured something that the internet will be discussing for weeks. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you won’t know that Oscars host Chris Rock made a joke and the expense of Will Smith’s wife, to which Smith got on stage and hit Rock in response. It’s hard to tell if this whole escapade was staged, most people believing it wasn’t due to the shocking nature of it all. Yet a large part of the internet believe it could have been an act, just to get people talking about the Oscars.

All news is good news, and in the case of this fiasco, it would definitely drum up a lot of publicity for the Oscars. It’s no secret that the awards show has been losing viewers year on year. A lot of people were turned off the show a while ago, during the start of the #MeToo era. But it could be argued that the Oscars have been losing steam even before this, with a lot of people saying that the internet took away from the might of the Oscars and it’s place in the live television world. Then, we’ve had the pandemic, that has undoubtedly not helped either.

So, with ratings falling year on year, would you be surprised if the higher ups decided to do something big and newsworthy to spice up the media presence of the Oscars? We saw it with the La La Land/Moonlight Best Picture winner controversy, and last year with the controversial Best Actor award. Could Will Smith’s slap be the latest attempt at bringing the Oscars back into the limelight?

Possibly. But if it is, is it right? It’s not right on the three people involved, but it’s also not fair on the films and creators involved either. When the only thing that is being discussed about the Oscars is this moment, it takes away from big achievements in film, such as Jane Campion being the third woman ever to win a Best Director Oscar. Or, the first deaf actor winning a Best Supporting Actor award. It’s hard to find anything whilst you’re scrolling on social media about what won this year, and it’s a shame.

The Oscars make a big song and dance about film, yet every year it feels as though it is losing touch. Whether the slap was staged or not, it’s hard to argue that the Oscars feel like they’re becoming less and less about celebrating film and more about getting ratings.

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