The Oscars – the last of the common cultural appointments?
By Bill, on February 25th, 2008
My old former boss, Kirk Lapointe, used a New York Times piece to poke around in the meaning of the Oscars as a cultural event:
"Sunday’s New York Times featured a David Carr argument that the Oscars remain one of our last collective cultural appointments, but today his defence is wearing a little thin. Maybe we’re witnessing the end of yet another societal bond." (Read the rest of his post here)
Kirk suggests the Oscar show itself (and the Olympics) are "ripe for decline" and in need of a digital facelift.
The Oscars – the last of the collective cultural appointments? An interesting take on the event and I share Kirk’s hinted at nostalgia? regret? that our society has so few of these common communal events that bind us together.
A couple of quick thoughts:
One, uncaptured by most mainstream media was a really interesting series of conversation happening live across the ‘net about the Oscars on Twitter, the sms-like micro-blogging tool that’s all the rage among the technocenti. People were chatting about the gowns, the hair, the musical acts, with their twitter ‘followers’ (most of whom they’ve never met in real life) just as if they were sitting in the same room and sharing the same bowl of popcorn. Here the digital age was knitting the Oscar’s remaining audience more closely together even as it was fragmenting it.
And Two: While we seem to be losing our "common cultural appointments" (e.g. last night’s Ed Sullivan show or that amazing photo on the back page of Life magazine this month) I wonder if in fact those common cultural appointments have simply become unglued, unstuck in time, consumable when and how WE want to, not when the producer insists we should. That is, while we don’t all watch that same TV show at the same time and then share that experience in the hours, days and weeks that follow- maybe we are simply finding new common cultural appointments that aren’t time sensitive – the net’s memes (lol cats, the star wars kid, Pearl the landlord etc).
In that sense they reflect the same basic power shift (from "producer" to "consumer") we see at play in our own fields of journalism, TV, radio and movies.