How Media Turn Award Shows Into Progressive Pep Rallies

Award shows are increasingly woke, and they have the ratings to prove it.

Year after year, most Hollywood galas draw significantly fewer eyeballs than past telecasts. TV ratings in general are down due to a fractured media landscape, but the percentage of award show declines is alarming.

The Academy Awards is often touted as the most shocking example.

The 2010 Oscars drew 41.6 million viewers, the kind of numbers you might expect from a beloved sitcom’s curtain call.

Now? The 2022 Oscars telecast drew just 16.6 million viewers, — and that number represented a 58% leap from the previous year (10.5 million).

Hollywood is increasingly woke across the board, from hyper-diverse casting to inserting overt progressive messages into its content. Award shows are the most obvious, and unpopular, way for the industry to flex its progressive bona fides.

Speech after speech. Joke after joke. And, every once in a while, an homage to the craft in question can be seen from the TV screen.

The mainstream Hollywood press plays a role in supporting this change.

The #OscarsSoWhite movement of 2016 showcased the industry’s lack of diversity and set a template for both the industry and media to follow. Part of that change proved necessary. For years, performers of color got few accolades from Team Oscar.

When Halle Berry won the Best Actress award for “Monsters Ball” in 2002 it marked the first time a black woman won that award. And she remains the only black woman to snag that specific honor.

The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag campaign proved powerful, but the unintended consequences continue today. Now, whenever a major awards body reveals its nominations, critics rush in to make sure enough diverse faces made the cut, category by category.

If Hollywood continued to exclude black or brown stars from the year’s biggest awards, that’s clearly problematic … although it reflects poorly on the allegedly enlightened industry, not the public at large.

If, in one particular year or category, more white faces make the cut, it’s hardly time for a new hashtag campaign.

Tell that to the press, which dutifully counts every face, every creed, and every gender in reporting on awards show news.

Take some recent headlines on the subject.

Deadline shared the recent Golden Globe nominations, doing a deep dive into just how diverse the nominees are.

This year the HFPA failed to nominate any Black films with strong themes in the Best Picture category, despite the strong lineup which included Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (soon to surpass Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with $411M+), TriStar’s Woman King (one of the highest grossing adult pics of autumn with $67.1M stateside), Apple Original Films’ Emancipation, Orion’s Till and Focus Features’ Letitia Wright Cannes title, The Silent Twins.

Uh oh.

Each year, plenty of quality films fail to make the cut for any number of reasons. “Top Gun: Maverick” came up light in the Golden Globe nominations, despite being the year’s top-grossing film and earning raves from both audiences and critics alike.

One of the films singled out by Deadline, Will Smith’s “Emancipation,” has a 46%“rotten” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make the cut, not any lack of diversity in the voting body.

Deadline seemed stumped by that imperfect diversity score, by its own metrics, even though the voting body is now sufficiently diverse.

How could HFPA, even with increasing its racial and ethnic membership to over 51% representation largely ignore this critically acclaimed movie at 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes?

Maybe because art remains subjective, and the voters had their own ideas about the best films in question.

Deadline’s own readers mocked the aggressive push to promote diversity above all else. Here’s just one example:

These quotas and artificial moral outrages are worse than the Hayes codes. Utterly ignores [the] reality that the HFPA is comprised of international critics representing international markets and all three examples (BP2:WF, Woman King and Till), woefully underperformed international v domestic.

Variety blasted the Globes in a separate category, noting the artists up for Best Director in two categories lacked a single female nominee.

The all-male director nominees include James Cameron (“Avatar: The Way of Water”), The Daniels (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Baz Luhrmann (“Elvis”), Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”).

That’s some pretty heady competition in that category. Cameron and Spielberg represent icons in their field, having created some of the most beloved movies of the modern era, from “Jaws” to “Terminator.”

TheWrap similarly weighed in on the documentary films available for Oscar glory this year. The outlet crunched the diversity numbers in the specific category,

The list includes four films directed by people of color and eight with women directors.

The Oscar system passed the test. For now.

Outlets also cheerlead stars who turn their awards show moments into progressive pep rallies. Rather than report on Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 climate change speech for winning the Best Actor award for “The Revenant” in a neutral fashion, media outlets attached phrases that quietly encourage the activism.

Here’s how The Hollywood Reporter announced the actor’s triumphant night.

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant, and he delivered a powerful message [emphasis added] about climate change while accepting his award on Sunday night.

Imagine the reaction had DiCaprio made a full-throated plea to end abortion across the country. Here’s betting “powerful” wouldn’t have made it into the article.

Hollywood’s woke revolution didn’t happen on its own. Several forces helped make it a reality, from guilt over the industry’s past blind spots to stars fearing cancellation for tweeting the “wrong” opinion.

The media does its fair share to keep the woke fires burning.

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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