BBC: Permanent Campaigning Dulls Oscar's Glow

BBC: Permanent Campaigning Dulls Oscar's Glow

It’s Oscar season, but one international outlet says the battle for this year’s Academy Awards will be marred by political-style campaigning.

Each year, both movie stars and the studios that hire them shmooze the press to snare an extra vote or two for end of the year honors. BBC reporter and critic Tom Brook says that process gets more aggressive every Oscar season, turning what should be a grand honor into something akin to a political campaign.

Courting members of the press and critics who vote in pre-Oscar contests has long been standard practice because studios know that winning Academy Awards can bring big financial rewards….But the pursuit of winning Oscars has now become so intense, at times frantic, that it has reduced all the participants who are part of this annual frenzy – from journalists like me to big name stars – to pawns in a rather strange game.

Brook partially blames producer Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood pal to a politician who perfected the art of the “permanent campaign,” President Barack Obama, for intensifying an already unseemly process.

Brook quotes contrarian critic Armond White on Weinstein’s impact on the awards circuit.

He revolutionised the way the industry promotes its films for awards – and he revolutionised media coverage of the awards season. He changed it totally by his aggressive and effective campaigning.

So who loses in the end? Films without the big marketing budgets to woo enough critics and voters, Brook says. 

There is a downside to this. There are lots of strong candidates – both actors and films – that just don’t stand a chance of making it on to the red carpet at the Oscars because they don’t have the big promotional budgets to support them.

It’s ironic that an industry filled with stars who bemoan the influence of money in politics–witness the 2012 comedy The Campaign and recent comments by Oscar winner Ben Affleck–take part in an annual Oscar race determined by cold, hard cash.