The Academy Awards have a history of getting political. This year’s, though, was a different beast, with the Trump administration and #MeToo looming large over the entire industry.
Host Jimmy Kimmel began the ceremony by leaning into the political humor, taking jabs at the White House with his opening monologue jokes.
“We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence,” he quipped.
CNN’s Saba Hamedy provided a round-up of political moments from the red carpet to the Oscars stage.
“This year’s Oscars felt especially diverse — diverse enough for Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph to joke about the number of performers of color,” The Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd wrote in his review. “It is a show in which men thank their husbands and women thank their wives, and it goes out around the world.”
Lloyd noted the two main themes of the night were inclusivity and condemning sexual predators.
“ I think focus has to shift from Hollywood at this point, because there are millions of people around the world asking for help.” Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo, on what should be next for #MeToo and #TimesUp #Oscars . pic.twitter.com/VyWI6yUhlF
— Cara Buckley (@caraNYT) March 4, 2018
After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy called out the lack of diversity in the 2016 Oscar nominees, the trending #OscarsSoBlack in 2017 faced criticism after The New York Times noted increased diversity in last year’s nominations. The hashtag made a comeback this year to celebrate diversity.
this year I think the trending hashtag at the #Oscars2018 should be #OscarsSoBlack because the diversity in nominations this year is so damn impressive the Academy did a great job taking it up a notch after all that negative feedback from last year
— IG: waynesam_ (@iAmWayneSam) March 4, 2018
Some conservative media personalities took issue with how political the show got, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, wrote The Hollywood Reporter.
Kimmel’s joke that “Oscar is 90 years old tonight, which means he’s probably at home tonight watching Fox News” got a response from the media outlet. Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy responded by saying that “according to Nielsen Media Research, the median age of Fox News is 65, meanwhile MSNBC is 66 and CNN is 59.”
Social media data provided by analytics companies showed what the Oscars audience was most interested in, politically and otherwise.
“Get Out” Director Jordan Peele, who made history last Sunday as the first African-American to receive the Best Original Screenplay award, had the top tweet with the most engagement, according to social media analytics firm Talkwalker.
I just won an Oscar. WTF?!?
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) March 5, 2018
In fact, “Get Out” was mentioned more than any other Best Picture nominated film or the eventual winner, with 54,700 mentions during the show, according to Brandwatch.
Talkwalker reported that Frances McDormand dropping the phrase “inclusion rider” — a term for placing diversity requirements in contracts — during her acceptance speech for the Leading Actress award garnered more than 76,000 mentions. Media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian and Time explained the term in articles.
The #MeToo movement and women received a whopping 207,200 mentions during the ceremony, according to Talkwalker’s calculations.
The data also showed that Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director on Sunday, earned the most social media mentions of any celebrity.
“For a filmmaker whose work is more personal than commercial or prestigious, joining his compadres in the winner’s circle was a symbolic win for Latinos so often left outside of Hollywood,” wrote IndieWire’s Monica Castillo about del Toro’s wins.
While politically relevant themes engaged social media users, this year’s ratings for the awards program hit a record low, reported Entertainment Weekly.
“Hollywood had a lot to say at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, but unfortunately, not everyone heard the message: it was the least-viewed telecast in the show’s history,” wrote Lynette Rice. “The Academy Awards on ABC averaged a mere 26.5 million viewers, down from last year’s 32 million.”
The article’s list of ratings for the Oscars going back to 1998 showed that this is the first time numbers have dipped below 30 million viewers in the last 20 years. There is no way to know if that is a direct result of the Oscars embracing politics or not.
Just like the NFL’s ratings dip coinciding with its players getting political, Hollywood has a choice to make: Either ignore larger domestic and international issues altogether during awards shows, or stand its ground and live with the consequences.