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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Maybe the Internet Shouldn’t Pick an Oscars Host

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

Well friends, here we are again: awards season. Not only that, it’s the second awards season to happen amidst a major Covid-19 case surge that makes red carpets and big galas unadvisable if not downright unsafe. The Grammys have already been postponed from their original January 31 date. The AFI Awards luncheon has been pushed back too. The list goes on and on. One thing that’s not been postponed or canceled yet? The Oscars. The show is scheduled for March 27—and this time, it’ll have a host.

Not that it’s never had a host before. In previous years, everyone from Billy Crystal to Ellen DeGeneres emceed the show. But no one has taken on the gig since the end of Jimmy Kimmel’s run in 2018. (Part of the reason the show went host-less was a whole Kevin Hart controversy that I’m not going to get into here.) This year, however, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is once again going to have someone fill that position. The thing is, they don’t know who.

After the news broke on Tuesday that the show would have a host, speculation has been rampant about who it might be, and who it should be. Spider-Man: No Way Home star Tom Holland threw his hat in the ring. Page Six reported someone had the bright idea to give Pete Davidson the mic. But while everyone waited for an official announcement, the internet does what it does best, and threw out its own contenders.

One of the clear crowd favorites was Elmo. The little red dude from Sesame Street has been burning up the internet lately because of a rant he went on—uncharacteristic for Sesame Street but not for Elmo—about how stupid it is to give a cookie to a pet rock. (Yes, this really happened. He actually screamed at fellow puppet Zoe, “Rocco’s not alive!” in a surreal moment that all but proved 2022 could be the year of Peak Existential Dread.) On the surface, this could be a good idea. Who doesn’t want the night to end with a Sesame Street character screaming “Why was Drive My Car snubbed? TELL ELMO!”? But then you remember Hollywood has enough petulant children, and having one host an awards show would get old pretty quickly.

Another idea that popped up was to have not only Holland host, but Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire—his fellow Spider-Men—as well. Seems fun! But also, why are we overlooking Zendaya? Just sayin’. As this week wore on, other names entered the fray. Willem Defoe! Eric André! The Academy even took the question to Twitter, asking for people to offer up hypothetical host options. (Personal favorite suggestion: Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang.)

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Mostly, this is all in good fun. But there’s also a small lingering worry in the back of my mind that says, Don’t listen to the internet. Social media is great for a lot of things; choosing an Oscars host is not one of them. Mainly because there’s a slight chance, like with the Yang suggestion, that the internet’s top (serious) choices might actually be good. The whole point of the Oscars hosting gig is that you kind of have to be a Twitter punching bag. Even when the jokes land, people online will still try to punch up the punchline. If there’s someone universally beloved running the show, no one will want to take potshots. Where’s the fun in that? If anything, the Academy should cave to the proposal that James Corden host in his Cats costume. That’s the kind of trash fire 2022 deserves.

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