Oscars Shocker: How Concerned Should We -- And TV Advertisers -- Be?

Does one good slap deserve another?

If nothing else, the -- actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock -- did the obvious for the Oscars: It got people talking -- in real-time.

The Oscar awards telecast on ABC took a turn to what a live event was always meant to be -- unscripted and dramatic, with no expectations about what comes next. But this year's event came with real-life violent action. 

Smith came onstage and took a swing at Rock after the comedian made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock then proceeded to introduce the documentary Oscar for Best Picture.

A few minutes later, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for “King Richard,” and then tearfully apologized for his actions (but not to Rock -- that apology came the next day in a tweet.)

That’s the ending you didn't see coming.

In the past, the Oscars awards ceremonies have been laden with actors delivering strong opinions about society and politics. But no one offered up violent physical actions to drive home their point.



One of the biggest shockers was when Marlon Brando won Best Actor for “The Godfather” in 1973.

Instead of accepting his trophy, Brando used the moment to protest by enlisting an indigenous (Apache and Yaqui) actor/activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, to appear on his behalf and to refuse his Oscar onstage.

Actors use the Oscar platform because it remains a live TV event -- although in recent years the show has yielded lower levels of 20 million to 30 million.

In accepting her prize, Ariana Debose (“West Side Story”), who won for Best Supporting actress, told the Oscar audience to look into her eyes: “You see a queer, openly queer woman of color -- Afro-Latina -- who found her strength in life through art. And that is what I believe we are here to celebrate.”

Jessica Chastain, who won for Best Actress this year, talked up “bigoted legislation” aimed at LGBTQ members, as well as concerns over “violence and hate crimes” against innocent people.

After a year where ABC's Oscars registered a historic Nielsen viewership low, 10.4 million viewers, it rebounded back to improved numbers -- but not near its pre-pandemic totals.

Next year should we expect more live impromptu battles among famous performers? Stuff of the tabloids for sure -- and, of course, for social media. What was level of promotion, with the word “Oscars”, that appeared on Monday in tweets?

Still, many say that real-life acts of violence on TV are wrong. So then, we might ask the obvious question.

Did we -- or advertisers -- really need to see this? Perhaps next year, disgruntled actors will just settle scores in the alley out back.

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