With hosts such as Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin getting older and out of touch with the youth of America, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science decided to go with a new, youthful host for the Oscars this year: Chris Rock.
Ironically, Rock was asked to host the Oscars six years ago but turned it down. He said, “It’s an old-man show.” When asked why he took the job this time around, he said, “I’m an old man.”
The Academy selected the foul-mouthed, controversial comedian Chris Rock to host the 77th annual Academy Awards in hopes to save the Oscars from a ratings freefall. It was weeks before the big event when the buzz surrounding Oscar night started to mount, a buzz that had not been heard since 1995 when David Letterman took the wheel of the hosting limousine, which he drove straight into an ocean of bad jokes.
The big question on everyone’s mind was, “Will Chris Rock sink or swim?” Now that Oscar night has come and gone, I am here to say that Chris Rock is swimming laps like a pro.
When Rock first walked on stage, the synthetic audience gave him a standing ovation. After saying “thank you,” the next words out of Rock’s mouth were, “Sit your asses down.” At that moment the Oscars ventured into a new realm that was fresh and exciting. The Academy took a risk, trading middle-age elegance for brisk adolescent antics. This risk worked, giving the Oscars better ratings than expected.It was bizarre seeing Chris Rock host the Academy Awards. It seemed as though Rock knew he did not belong there but this knowledge worked in his favor. This seemed to make the hosting gig less forced and more graceful than in the past.
Rock kept the jokes coming all night, as if he had nothing to lose. He talked about movies that were made too quickly and were, therefore, made with second-rate actors rather than stars for leading rolls. He touched on politics and controversial films such as “Passion of the Christ” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Rock even took his humor to the streets, heading over to the Magic Johnson Theater and asking average movie goers what they thought of the films that were nominated this year.
Rock proved that you can attract a younger audience while not going too far, or getting overly extreme. With the exception of the word “ass,” Rock’s language was not foul. He was not bleeped, which may have been do to the fact that his mom was in the crowd, and was a great success.
This should be a lesson to all of the other networks: attracting a younger audience does not mean being vulgar, getting naked or taking things overboard. To attain a youthful audience, all you have to do is be smart.