About 45 million people will watch the Oscars live in the United States, and about twice that number worldwide in 200 countries.
Comparatively, about 115 million people watched the Super Bowl live in the United States alone just a few weeks ago, and arguably just under a billion people watched the Germany-Argentina World Cup Final last year.
I’m not sure of the veracity of that last figure but it came off of a German website and historically, the Germans have been pretty accurate with big numbers of people … but just don’t mention the war.
So why is a relatively small audience by comparison more important?
Because in this day and age every single country in the world has a stake in the Academy Awards, because the Oscars (as they are known) signify the best of the best of what is the most important visual and storytelling medium in our history – the moving picture.
There simply wouldn’t be a village on the planet, by and large, that has not had the vast majority of its people aware of what a movie is, or seen one, or known somebody who was in one, or made one, or wanted to be in one, or whose life wasn’t dictated aesthetically, visually, fiscally and morally by a character they saw on a screen in a darkened room or theatre when they were a young child.
We define the movies as recorders of our most important stories and events, and magnify the stakes and the players to such reverence that the adage of growing up to see stars you want to be, sleep with, or kill (emulate, copulate, disintegrate) becomes more powerful each and every year.
Not everyone plays gridiron. Not every country plays cricket. Rugby, AFL, football, soccer, baseball, all have their fans but when they get to their Grand Final or championships it’s down to just two teams, and 90 per cent of the fans are forced to barrack for one or the other.
At the Oscars, there are thousands of possibilities whittled down to hundreds of viable nominees pared down to dozens of winners, and our emotional attachment to many of the nominees is so fierce, the field of play so subjective and virtually indefinable, that ‘everyone is in the game’ until the final whistle.
The joy of seeing someone who appeared or helped make a film that changed your day, your week, your life, or defines your entire relationship with your partner or yourself cannot be measured by anything other than emotion.
And it’s great to view a telecast of elegance for several hours created by hundreds of talented people, showcasing some whom we’ve seen a lot over the years, and some who sprouted with a dream that will disintegrate at midnight like Cinderella’s carriage, and never be seen again.
The impermanence of fame and beauty and exultation in an industry designed to create images of permanence forever is something to be embraced on all levels, because films are a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic celebration of the senses.
And that, good friend, is what life, and hope, are all about.
Bobby Galinsky has been a screenwriter and producer for three decades, originally based in Los Angeles, and then, from 1984, Australia. His favourite movie from his mother’s list is The Thin Man.