As awards show ratings continue to sink year by year, the Oscars face a fundamental question: How to go viral? Last year’s show hit an all-time low with 23.6 million viewers and a 5.3 rating among adults 18 to 49, missing out on a younger demographic that is increasingly without cable and less interested in traditional media than the digital world. In a year when the nominated films lived almost solely on streamers, The Hollywood Reporter talked to top creators across platforms for ideas on how to make the Oscars connect with Gen Z.

Alisha Marie, YouTuber and podcaster

“They should have a whole segment that’s just following a seat filler around, that would be so fucking funny, like, ‘Oh, I’m sitting in Beyoncé’s chair, now I’m going to go sit in this chair.’ We all know that happens. And a TikToker backstage asking celebs, like, ‘Have you seen this dance? Do you know it?’ And they’ll do it with them.”

Zach Kornfeld of The  Try  Guys

“Why are they not asking Ali Wong, Hasan Minhaj, Desus and Mero, Amber Ruffin [to host] — the list is endless of incredible comedians and new faces that we could get onto this broadcast. There’s a reason that clips of Alan Kim are going viral after every awards show this circuit — he’s excited to be there, it’s endearing, exciting, adorable. I would much rather check in on him and Steven Yeun, people who are here for the first time, than cut to another shot of Leo DiCaprio quietly clapping.”

Kalen Allen, YouTuber and Ellen  Show correspondent

“Being able to live-stream the show on Facebook or Twitter, where people can interact in real time, would be amazing. Also, clipping out parts and immediately getting those parts onto social media, especially when it comes to [live music] performances. And if the rule was, you can only wear jeans and a T-shirt or loungewear.”

Ryan Ken, who shot to Twitter fame after his spoof reaction to Malcolm & Marie

“One, share industry gossip with the audience between awards. I, for one, would like to know what’s the strangest thing in Glenn Close’s rider. Two, encourage being a sore loser and open rivalries between nominees. I want actual rivalries with participation from the folks involved, not some arbitrary conflict we project exclusively onto women. If there is drama in the sound-editing world, I’d like to know about it. Three, allow Twitter or Maya Rudolph to host. Four, get rid of gendered acting categories. Remember that best director is not a gendered category.”

GloZell Green, YouTube personality

“Have social media people throw Oscar streaming parties. We want to see more fun things. The last thing we want is stuck-up fuddy-duddies.”

Dan Mertzlufft, composer of viral Thanksgiving: The TikTok Musical With James Corden

“Someone write a 59-second song for what a nominee’s fake musical would sound like. Have Taylor Swift write a fake song for the bonus track on an album.”

Josh RichardsTikTok star who launched a company with Mark  Wahlberg

“[Get] Gen Z celebs to present, such as myself and Addison Rae.”

Julian Bass, college student who went so viral over his social media VFX videos that he caught Bob Iger’s attention

“Remember how Avengers: Endgame broke every record in the book and [they] just ignored it? They have to read the room better. At least give a spotlight to things that people around the world are loving more than some movie about a guy at a farm.”

Alexis Gay, comedian and Clubhouse app star

“If the Oscars commissioned young filmmakers to make 60-second TikTok videos and then they did a digital category online for best TikTok, how cool would that be?”

Charlamagne Tha God, viral radio and TV personality

“Who’s the actor or actress that they’re cutting up clips of their movies and putting on TikTok? Get people like that to host. And they’ve got to realize that when they do lean into diversity, people care. People are happy when certain films are acknowledged.”

A version of this story first appeared in the April 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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