4 Ways to Make Oscar Voting Smarter

Making the Oscar telecast better is easy: Get the stars drunker. But how to make Oscar voting smarter?

It's a well-established fact that the Oscars are pretty terrible. Inconsistent, masturbatory, and long to the point of absurdity, the event itself has become a favorite target of even pop culture writers, who are paid to idolize and obsess over movie stars. But not only is the telecast deeply flawed, the way the awards are decided is a travesty, too. In a recent review of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Times discovered that, of the academy's nearly 6,000 voters, the vast majority are white men over the age of 50.

With such a homogenous stable of voters, it's little wonder that films beloved by American audiences—which are composed of far more women and minorities than the academy—often lose or aren't nominated in the first place. People of color are also rarely nominated for acting and directing Oscars.

Today, a lot of people will spend time discussing how best to improve the Academy Awards as a television show, but that's the easy part: Make it shorter and get the actors drunker. We're more interested in how to improve the Academy Awards as a cultural indicator. Here, a few suggestions. If we miss anything, feel free to add others in the comments.

  • Dissolve the voting pool, whose members are a secret, and allow only Academy Award winners to vote. One current Oscar voter is a 73-year-old nun who hasn't worked in movies in decades. If that's any indication of who's awarding Hollywood's biggest prize, things are perhaps further gone than anyone thought. Though allowing only Oscar winners to vote wouldn't take care of the academy's ethnic diversity problem, it would level the playing field when it came to gender and age. It would also ensure that the academy would never again become bloated with old people who aren't actually working in Hollywood, as the pool would be constantly replenishing itself.
  • Make a concerted effort to racially integrate the academy's ranks. Like it or not—and you should probably like it—America is becoming more colorful than it's ever been. That the academy doesn't even come close to reflecting the diversity of race and opinion in the nation in which it operates is a mistake that should be rectified.
  • Make the voters vote quarterly. Most of the movies studios believe have a great shot of winning an Oscar come out around the holidays, because the academy casts its ballots soon afterward. The result is an annual glut of dramas in theaters around Christmas, not to mention a forgotten band of sometimes worthy movies from the beginning of the year. If voters voted quarterly, they would have quality films from throughout the year fresh in their minds, and audiences wouldn't have to wait until November and December to see some great cinema.
  • Create a separate category for comedy. As truly remarkable comedians like Louis C.K. prove, comedy is an art form. Alas, it's an art form that gets almost totally overshadowed at the Oscars, which nominates and awards gripping dramas far more than it does cheery audience favorites like Bridesmaids and Mean Girls. The Golden Globes has smartly nominated comedies and dramas in separate categories for years now. It's about time the Oscars got less snooty and did the same.
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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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