Elders of Oscar

Oscar Cake

Original Photo by Megan Robertson — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Have you ever fantasized about winning an Oscar? If so, you might want to treat your elders with a lot of respect.

In a fascinating study of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Los Angeles Times discovered a significant disconnect between those who award and those who pay for movie entertainment.

Exactly who is on the list of the 5,765 voting members across all categories is not allowed to be known. However, good old fashioned journalism by the Times has revealed a lot of information about the individuals who make-up of the voting body.

Currently, the ones who decide who and what film gets an Oscar are 94% Caucasian and 77% male. The median age of the voters is 62. Those younger than 50 represent only 14% of the voters. In other words, these old white guys have a lot of clout.

As one Sony executive ruminated, perhaps that’s why when it comes to Oscar glory The King’s Speech beat out The Social Network. At the time, the internet was not relevant to most of the voters.

Of course, there is a logic in ensuring that those who judge artistic merit have the experience to put the work in context with precedents. At the same time, Hollywood’s youth driven and inclusive business model is unfortunately dependent on the ultimate accolades from a small group of individuals who hardly represent their audiences.

Hollywood’s product, as with all artist product, is about connecting viscerally and deeply with an audience. The impetus to any creative work is not a prize, but for this opportunity to impact an audience.

Nonetheless, as we sort through the highs and lows of Oscars 2012, it’s worth viewing those decisions in the context of the deciders.

After all, the best in art is never for the old guard. Artists create for tomorrow.

- Bill Reichblum

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