At one point in its history, Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as “Titanic” or “Gladiator” as the year’s best. That’s changed. Recent best picture victors such as “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and the 2018 winner “The Shape of Water” have been firmly ensconced in the arthouse world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have only been recognized for their technical achievements.
Creating a category that segregates popular films from more elevated fare hardly seems like an improvement or likely to keep the academy relevant, since it calls attention to the awards’ elitism rather than actually broadening their appeal. If the academy really wants to make the Oscars more appealing to a wider audience, it should consider just recognizing the artistic merit of deserving popular films instead of cordoning them off in their own category. After all, wasn’t that part of the justification for expanding the Best Picture category in 2009, that having more than five nominees would allow room for both obscure indies and more popular fare that might otherwise be squeezed out of the race?
“Let’s go back to the Dickens model,” says Serial Box co-founder Molly Barton. “Let’s be Shonda Rhimes for books, and harness the power of telling a little bit of the story each week.” That’s what the company does, publishing books on the limited-TV-series model: the books come out in chapters meant to take 40 minutes to read (so you can do it on your commute); the various titles have seasons, writers’ rooms, and even showrunners; customers can purchase by the episode chapter, season, or entire span of a series.
The world is horrible, but horror books and horror movies give us examples of people who fight back against the horror, and sometimes win: “The banal evils of the world — children shot, neighbors exiled, selves reframed in an instant as inhuman threats — these are horrible, but they aren’t horror. Horror promises that the plot arc will fall after it rises. Horror spins everyday evil to show its fantastical face, literalizing its corroded heart into something more dramatic, something easier to imagine facing down. Horror helps us name the original sins out of which horrible things are born.”
The study’s authors found that the average arts and culture organization in the U.S. engaged with 13.4 percent of its local population, either in person or online, in 2013. At the same time, the authors noted that their metric of “total touch points” does not reveal the duration, depth or quality of engagement each person has with the organization.
“The new culture minister of Italy’s populist coalition government, Alberto Bonisoli, has [announced] that a monthly free-entry initiative at the country’s museums and monuments is coming to an end. Since July 2014, more than 480 state-run cultural sites, including Pompeii, the Uffizi and the Colosseum, have been free to visit on the first Sunday of every month. Known as Domenica al museo (Sunday at the museum), the policy was one of many culture reforms introduced by Bonisoli’s centre-left predecessor, Dario Franceschini.”
That a lot of visitors make a beeline through art museum galleries has long been a bugaboo for curators and directors—“studies of museum visitors have shown that people look at artworks very quickly, spending maybe five seconds or less per painting,” Brent Benjamin, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum told Observer. But despite this desire on the part of arts professionals, slowing visitors down in front of individual objects has not been the primary goal at most institutions of late—though they certainly want to get people in, and get them to stay.