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Stewart at the Oscars: Why? Why Not?

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So the Academy Awards have asked Jon Stewart back to host, despite the fact that his last outing, in 2006, drew fewer viewers than Chris Rock before him and Ellen DeGeneres after. Naturally, people are starting to ask why, including LA Weekly’s Nikki Finke. (To be specific, she asks: “Has the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences lost its collective mind?”)

To which I answer, why not? Maybe the Academy has faced up to the fact that people don’t watch the Oscars mainly to watch the host. They watch–or, more and more lately, don’t watch–to watch the movies, to see who wins what, to gawk at celebs, to make fun of outfits. to see if they won their Oscar pools, and to get drunk in the company of friends. Sure, people are curious about the host and hope he or she is funny. But I suspect that the entertainment-media biz has gotten over-involved in the parlor game of who should host what, when there’s probably no host who can overcome the disintegration of the mass audience, a lack of big-audience nominees with fans invested in whether they win, cynicism about the nomination and lobbying process, or general burnout on an awards show, many of whose winners are foregone conclusions before they unpack the red carpet.

But maybe I’ve lost my collective mind. (And after all, I liked Stewart as host, better, it seemed, than the celebs in the audience did.) Has the choice of host ever kept you from watching the Oscars? Should they have gone with Colbert?

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