February 26th, 2007at 11:15am Posted by Eli
Interesting Oscar proposal in today’s WaPo (full disclosure: I hate awards shows in general, and the Oscars in particular):
One series of psychological experiments offers insight into why the stars regularly underperform at the Academy Awards — and what can be done about it. Contrary to the widely held belief that a supportive audience improves the performance of people under pressure, these experiments show exactly the opposite is true. All those fans, friends and family in the auditorium may make the stars feel good about what they are doing on stage, but it is probably making the show more boring for the rest of us.
[V]olunteers did worse when they believed the audience was invested in their success, compared with when the audience was not interested.
Paradoxically, people invariably felt they did better than they had when they had a supportive audience — even though they did worse — and felt they had done worse when the audience was hostile — even though they had done better. The support of a friendly audience made people feel good about themselves, and that feeling tricked them into believing they had actually performed well.
So here’s a suggestion for the Oscars next year. Tell friends and families of the stars to watch the show on TV. Sit that high school gym teacher who used to make life hell for the Best Actor in the front row. Bring in all the ex-husbands and ex-wives, too.
The stars will probably not enjoy the show very much. But it will be far more entertaining for the rest of us.
Hey, even if it doesn’t work, I would at least take some satisfaction from knowing that the stars are as miserable as the viewers (I believe this is known as “awards showdenfreude”).
But what do we do about all the hacks who write the godawful presentation banter and all that excruciating filler material that just goes on and on and on? Maybe something like the brainwashing scene in A Clockwork Orange, only instead of Beethoven and ultraviolence, it would be interminable musical numbers and lame, pointless comedy routines.