IN DEFENSE OF THE ACADEMY AWARDS SHOW. Ann Hathaway and James Franco have been subject to some harsh criticism for their performance as hosts of the Oscars show. I thought they did a good job, from the bits that I saw, and Mary Jane and Annalisa, who saw almost every minute, think so too. After reading this article by Virginia Postrel in the Wall Street Journal (February 26-27), which anticipated much of the criticism, I think the critics are missing the point of the show. She argued that millions of people watch the show, not to be entertained, but because: “Watching the Oscars gives viewers the chance to imagine being singled out before the whole world as special, beloved and really good at their jobs.” She made me think about why people watch the show. It’s not primarily to be entertained. The structure of the show prevents that. Virginia Postrel is right that the acceptance speeches are very important. But the chance to see behind the scenes matters too. The audience is permitted to look at an industry, and one that they know a little about. Most of the important people are there for the one occasion, and they can all be seen together. There is a rare glimpse of the technicians. We know they’re necessary, and once a year we see some of them. But the format of the show is a lot like a graduation ceremony. No host can change that.

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