Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Chris Rock Conspiracy

So, you've probably read in the last few days the 'furor' over some of Chris Rock's raunchy comedy. You've heard the Academy is "concerned" or "worried" what he might say during the Oscars. And today, Rock has said that he won't drop the F-bomb at the rate of people thanking their agents at the awards show.

Don't pay attention to any of it.

Let me tell you something, Gil Cates and the Academy know exactly what they are doing. No one was talking about the Oscars. Nobody. Until this news started hitting early in the week, barely anyone thought about the Oscars. Why is that? Well, let's take a look at the nominees:

The Aviator $83.6 million made to date
Ray $74.7 million made to date
Sideways $53.9 million made to date
Million Dollar Baby $46.9 million made to date
Finding Neverland $42.5 million made to date

The Best Picture winner last year, Return of the King made $377 million dollars. These five pictures have grossed $303 million. COMBINED. Hardly anyone has seen any one of these films! None of them have broken $100 million, the first sign that a large number of people have seen your movie. Now, does box office equate to quality? Not necessarily (just look at some of the films that have made $200 million or more in the last few years). But, box office does translate to popularity of some degree. People watched the Oscars last year and the year Titanic won Best Picture and lots of other awards because they had actually seen the movie. They had something to root for. Who watches a show when they haven't even seen what's nominated.

Enter our friend, controversy.

How do you get people to watch something when they have no personal stake in the proceedings? You create controversy. They way they chose to gin it up this year was to a) tap Chris Rock as host and then b) remind people how "risky" a choice this was for the Academy. Gil Cates, the producer of the Oscars, is sitting back laughing himself silly while people worry whether Rock will "slip up" during the show or "offend people". That's the only way Cates can assure ABC that there will be any audience for this show.

So, if you were going to watch the Oscars anyway, ignore all of this. If you weren't going to watch it, do you really think any of this controversy should really change your mind? Do you really think he'll do anything that could land him a brand spanking new indecency fine of 500 grand?

I don't think so.

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