Dear Brett Ratner and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,
Brett, I understand that you are producing this year’s Oscar telecast and already I am seeing articles wondering what will be done to make the Academy Awards more appealing to a hip, youthful audience. The speculation is particularly intense with regards to who will be selected as the host for this year’s show. What cool celeb will be tapped to host a great show and pull in younger viewers?
Brett, MPAAS, you need to listen closely and please try to understand something:
The Oscars are not hip. The Oscars have never been hip, and every attempt to make the Oscars hip has been pandering at best, and a complete debacle at worst. If you want hip, go to the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards.
The thing is, the Oscars have never been about the now. Yes, they honor films that are (in some cases) only months old, but the unspoken understanding is that these new films are being compared to, and elevated to the status of, the great films of history. The Oscars can’t look at the now without also looking at the past. That fact will always keep the Academy Awards rooted in a certain type of classic Hollywood glamor that is, by nature, slightly stuffy. But this is also what makes the Oscars special. The Oscars are the rose colored glasses though which we get to view the history of film and pretend that movies are glitz and magic and art, and not just a tax write offs for Japanese stereo manufacturers.
With that in mind, I am asking you to please stop looking for hosts who are cool or hip and/or appeal to a young audience. Jon Stewart, Chris Rock and David Letterman are great, but the Oscars don’t need hosts who are going to burn the room down while remaining ironically detached. That’s why we have Oscar watching parties and live tweet with our catty gay hipster friends. That’s what makes it fun for us. Young actors like James Franco and Anne Hathaway, while talented, simply don’t have the live performance chops to steer a show of that size. Certainly not while cartoonishly high. You need somebody who has a touch of that golden age Hollywood charm. You need somebody who has comedic timing, can do a song and dance, and who knows the difference between a gentle ribbing of the nominees and a full on roast. Just by the nature of the experience required, that person is probably not going to be in their 20s or even their 30s.
Billy Crystal recently said that he is interested in hosting again. You should seriously consider his offer. Obviously he can do it and do it well. However, if you’re looking to start fresh with a first time host, I don’t think you could do better than Kevin Spacey. He’s funny, good with impressions, can sing if he has to and isn’t a bad hoofer. In the 45 seconds he was on stage at last year’s ceremony, he displayed more grace and charm than Franco or Hathaway did all night. The contrast was startling. It was the difference between watching a seasoned entertainer and kids at a high school talent show. I think he’s got the CV to make a great Oscar host. All you have to do is ask.
Oh, and one last thing, Brett. I know that there’s a voice somewhere in your head telling you to pick Chris Tucker as your host. Do NOT listen to that voice. That is the voice of a liar and a trickster. If need be, take a power drill to your skull and bore that voice out. Chris Tucker would be a terrible Oscar host. It’s up to you to do the right thing here. Please don’t let us down.