On Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 9:56 AM, 'Dave Sikula' via TVorNotTV <
tvornottv@googlegroups.com> wrote:

> I am so friggin' tired of this "Brits have training and Americans don't"
> canard that I could spit. The MFA programs over here are every bit the
> equal of what's being done at RADA or LAMDA. The accent mesmerizes
> Americans into thinking they're somehow smarter and better. Sure, there are
> crap American actors (Lawrence being one of them, to bring this around to
> someone who's been discussed), but there are just as many crap British
> actors. I see actors in San Francisco on a  weekly basis who are doing work
> just as good -- or better -- as what I see from London. (This is also
> something that drives me crazy about the NY Times. There's groundbreaking
> theatrical work being done all over the country -- particularly in Chicago
> and Los Angeles -- but if it doesn't happen in New York or London, it
> doesn't exist, as far as the national media are concerned.)
>
> As for the sagging ratings for the Oscarcast, I think it's less about the
> actors or the films than it is that (if my students are any indicator) "the
> kids today" just don't care about it. I ask my class every Monday if anyone
> did anything exciting, saw any movies or television shows they liked, and
> they almost never have gone to the movies or watched anything (and
> certainly nothing on the networks). They didn't watch the Olympics, they
> didn't watch the Oscars, and most of them haven't even seen "Black Panther."
>
> I don't know what the model for media consumption is going to be for this
> generation, but it's obvious that the old one is (or should be) on life
> support.
>

I tend to agree that it's either snobbery or being blinded by an accent.
There are some excellent state-supported initiatives in Britain like the
National Theatre (where I recently saw a superb Bryan Cranston in a stage
production of Network - the 1976 movie. It's very timely!) or the Royal
Shakespeare Company. But it's not like US cities don't have their own
strong local theatre companies.

There are good drama schools and there are bad drama schools in both the US
and the UK. Depending on your age, you may go straight into TV/film work
without doing theatre, or it's your only option until some casting director
somewhere puts you in a TV show.

When there was something of a burst of TV roles being snapped up by British
actors, I remember one suggestion was that Brits were just cheaper. And
there simply aren't opportunities outside of soap operas, to get year round
employment on a show. Of course the TV landscape is changing, and you can
be cast in The Crown and shoot in London for a US company. Meanwhile 24
episode series seem from a bygone era, and anything worth watching is
probably a much more limited series.

I suspect that there are a whole bunch of reasons why audiences are not
watching the Oscars as much as they did:

TV is just in decline as everyone else has said.

The movie industry itself is to blame. Very broadly, it makes massive
blockbuster superhero or action films that are never likely to win Oscars
outside of the technical categories, and never would have won in the past
either (films like ET notwithstanding). And then it makes much smaller
films that can be critically garlanded but are seen by relatively few. The
mid ground, where most Oscars used to come from has just gone away - in the
most part to premium TV. You *can* make big-budget films that are up for
Oscars - Dunkirk is a good example of that. But I've yet to see a superhero
film that is truly worthy of a "Best Picture" nomination.

I don't buy the idea that there are no more stars. Jennifer Lawrence (who I
think is actually pretty decent), Dwayne Johnson, Tom Cruise (still), Tom
Hanks, Chris Pratt, Emma Watson, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johannsson...
There are loads. I'm not saying that casting a star guarantees box office
because we have the internet, and people discover pretty quickly how good
or bad a film is - I'm sure it's word of mouth on social rather than the
Rotten Tomatoes website that *really* makes the difference incidentally.
And yes, you can cast an unknown as a superhero or a Star Wars character
and still have success - but that's partly the nature of those films, and
in any case, you tend to make them stars.

And people do still care about stars. Supermarket tabloids may be in
decline, but the UK's most embarrassing export is the Mail Online website
which is basically built around star gossip and pictures. It's just moved
online. Stars have Instagram accounts.

As someone who *does* watch films quite a bit, and had seen 8 of the 10 in
the Best Picture category, I don't feel the need to watch the Oscars or the
BAFTAs. I'll read online who won, maybe watch some clips on a newscast and
move on.

I don't know what the future is - but I do know it's dis-aggregated.


Adam

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