It is a tradition of the Academy Awards that hosts, participants and spectators complain that the awards ceremony is too long. At the 90th Annual Oscar Ceremony on Sunday night, presenter Jimmy Kimmel made a long-running complaint joke, dangling the prospect of an $ 18,000 jet ski as a reward for the winner who gave the acceptance speech shorter. It was a lovely joke, but if the Academy is serious about shortening speeches, a Jet Ski will not. It just is not valuable enough.
Jet Ski found a home with costume designer Phantom Thread Mark Bridges. And offering an incentive prize is a better approach than recapitulation music that cuts winners in the middle of their big moment. We have not measured the speeches, but if they were shorter on average this year, the difference was negligible. This is because there are many incentives that compete with each other for the duration or short duration of an Oscar acceptance speech, and an eco-friendly Jet Ski can not dominate the career of a victory that defines the race in front of millions of people. .
In general, the science of reward and punishment, and which works best, is complex and may depend on the recipient. People love rewards, whether in concrete forms such as money, or abstract, as a virtual badge of an exercise tracker. But some studies have shown that children, for example, react better to reward, while adolescents and adults respond better to punishment.
What is the value of a short speech? Winners who are brief are better at keeping the public's attention. They do not have the shame of being interrupted and played. They do not look bored or disorganized. And this year, they could have won a real prize and some extra laughs for receiving it.
What is the value of a long speech? The Oscars are an exceptional case, and it is clear that the incentives for a longer speech far surpass the shorts, Jet Ski would be condemned. Very few people, even in Hollywood, really have a moment in the spotlight as Oscar offers. This kind of attention is more rare than currency. As my colleague Tasha Robinson points out, people who spend their lives working for recognition are probably too enthusiastic to waste their long-awaited moment on what amounts to a raffle ticket for an award of the function of game. In addition, there is a long tradition of winners thanking the teams that supported them and made their projects possible, and anyone who neglects that tradition runs the risk of appearing egocentric and self-centered.
Paradoxically, the more people hate the long speeches that go through a long list of hardly distinguishable acknowledgments, the more valuable those acknowledgments will be for the recipients. When the audience gets restless and the music of the takeoff stage begins, it takes more guts for a winner to make sure to thank their agent, mother and hairdresser, which means that these people are more likely to appreciate. the time and effort given And, frankly, the winners will continue to interact with their agents, parents and hairdressers long after the public has forgotten if a given speech lasted 30 seconds or three minutes.
Perhaps the strongest incentive against rambling is that the winners simply do not want to bore people and look bad. But anyone who takes the stage to accept a prize is already successful. They have already built a reservoir of fame and goodwill. If they're bored for two more minutes, so what? Twitter masses may complain during that segment, but no film fan has ever said: "I'm not going to see Jennifer Lawrence's new movie because her Oscar talk was too long." The winners have a moment of invincibility here. And now, the "play offstage" trick is so old that when people are played, it's more fun than humiliating. So many winners in recent years have succumbed successfully against music that when the orchestra tries to cut someone off, it is the Academy that looks bad, not the winner.
If the Academy really wants to shorten speeches, incentives must change, which means raising the stakes beyond a trick. Of course, to be practical, this technique must also be something that the Academy can apply. Showrunners can hardly force moviegoers in the United States to stop watching someone's movies if their speech is too long. But the Academy could, in theory, disqualify someone from consideration of next year's awards if it exceeds the allotted time. Make the incentive, and I promise that the winners will line up correctly.
However, that would mean that the Academy's main priority was shorter speeches, not about paying homage. Even if that were true, it would be a bad appearance for the organization, which would make the Academy look stupid, draconian and obsessed with rules rather than celebratory. So maybe it's better that they have clung to the embarrassing light or not entirely serious incentives. That is not likely to result in shorter speeches, but at least it makes everyone understand the joke.