Last night we all watched an Oscars broadcast that was, surprisingly, efficient. It was still well before 11:00 p.m. on the East coast when the big awards started to be handed out. With a speedy show, my Twitter timeline was filled with some version of the same, “Hey, this no host thing is great.” It was one of the tidiest Oscar telecasts in recent memory.
However, I, for one, really missed having a host.
Have you ever been to a concert where the band plays all the songs you want to hear, but there’s something a bit robotic about the whole affair? In 2007 I saw The Police at Madison Square Garden on their reunion tour. I enjoyed the show, but the whole thing felt a little robotic. There’s wasn’t a lot of banter and the “surprise” moments felt a little scripted. Then I looked up some previous setlists and it turned out they pretty much did the exact same show every night. It all felt a bit empty. Like, “Hey, you got exactly what you paid for, just like the customers tomorrow night will get what they paid for.” There was no personality to that show. That’s what the Oscars felt like last night. If there’s not a host next year – as many people seem to want – it will be the same thing. Yes, hosts can be sloppy, but that also gives the show a personality, and some banter. I like banter! And, apparently, I like my Oscars to be more sloppy than efficient.
It’s not even so much the opening numbers – though, my goodness, I would much rather have had Billy Crystal’s cheesiest monologue over Adam Lambert performing with two original members of Queen* – or the comedy bits, like the whole “surprise people watching who are watching a movie” from last year. It’s more like having some sort of authority figure who comes from the perspective of the audience. If something weird happens, it’s nice to have a host who can pop out and say, “That was weird, right?” Or if someone gets his or her speech cut off, but were in the middle of saying something important, it’s good to have a host who can come out and make sure that person can finish, as Jimmy Kimmel has done in the past.
(As an aside, there really should be some sort of law when it comes to the use of band names. Half of the original members of Queen performed last night, but they were introduced as Queen. Could you imagine if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr came out on stage with Chris Daughtry and Ed Sheeran, then the announcer says, “Let’s give a warm welcome to The Beatles!”)
A good host can put things in context. When Spike Lee won last night for Best Adapted screenplay, there’s no doubt the host, had there have been one, would have come out and framed that for television audience members who may not quite have realized what an important moment that was that they just witnessed. (Though, Samuel L. Jackson tried his darndest.) What a good host does is make sure we keep remembering that moment throughout the night. But, with no host, once something ended, that was it. There’s wasn’t anyone to say, “Wow, what a moment,” or, “What the hell?” It was just gone forever, on to the next presenter.