Dow closes at a record high, Oscar viewership at record low

As Samuel Goldwyn (1879-1974), one of the Founding Fathers of the Hollywood movie business might have said today, "If you want to send a message, make a phone call.  Or send a letter."  In other words, the message should be fairly private between sender and recipient, not in public on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.  And certainly, to get to the core of Goldwyn's meaning, don't make "message" movies if you want to make money; the shrewd businessman realized the diverse public just wanted to be pleasantly entertained for a few hours.  And don't send messages that might alienate a significant percentage of the potential core audience.  If they want a message, well, they certainly have innumerable options and the choice of how and when to use them.

But the Hollywood entertainment figures and executives of today just didn't get Goldwyn's message.  They send messages via social media, via their publicists, via their appearances on the 24-hour talk shows, and via the multiple and ever increasing award shows.  But their messages have little or nothing to do with entertainment – they are about politics or social issues.  And yes, while hooray for the First Amendment, entertainers are no more knowledgeable or authoritative about politics than their fans, despite – because of? – the former's wealth and fame.  Also, sending too many messages about matters that have nothing to do with entertainment, while mocking and denigrating the beliefs of almost half of their potential audience, risks alienating their potential customers.

This is what happened Sunday night.  As you may have heard, Hollywood's biggest night, the Academy Awards, was televised that evening.  But prior to the big event, the potential audience also heard the multiple messages regarding the spectacle.  In addition to the usual Oscars sideshows of who wore what, how the stars looked, and other juicy trivial gossip, the main theme of the show was to be not the winners of the various categories, but politics. Leftist politics. Anti-Trump politics.  Winners spouting smug, feel-good liberal clichés while smearing the new president, as had happened at the Grammys, the Golden Globes, and all the pre and post talk shows.  Thus warned, millions of viewers tuned out.  Even those who voted for President Donald J. Trump (R) but decided to give the Oscars broadcast a try gave up in minutes after the host's opening Trump Derangement Syndrome comments, disguised as jokes.  The definitive sinking viewer numbers prove the wisdom of Goldwyn's 100-year-old insight.* 

Oscars ratings lowest in 9 years

[R]atings for the annual ceremony tumbled to their lowest in years.

The 89th Academy Awards delivered a 32.9 million viewers and a 9.1 rating among adults 18-49, down 13 percent in the demo from last year. That’s the weakest Oscars performance in nine years [emphasis added].

Insiders had hoped the combination of the heavily nominated popular musical La La Land and host Jimmy Kimmel’s everyman appeal might turn around the recent trend, but it looks like the telecast has slumped yet again.

That translates as 10 million fewer viewers than just three years ago, which means many, many million fewer dollars for the grandiosely named Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, sponsors of the program, not to mention the publicity for the pictures themselves. 

But, on the bright side

Dow notches 12th straight record close as Wall Street braces for Trump speech

The Dow Jones industrial average gained about 15 points, hitting a new all-time intraday high, with Boeing and Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains. The index also closed at a record high for a 12th straight session, its longest streak since 1987.

People are going to be cautious because the market has run up on expectations of tax cuts and deregulation," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "I think we'll see a bit of a repeat of last week."

The S&P 500 also hit all-time intraday and closing highs, rising 0.1 percent, with energy rising 0.8 percent to offset losses in telecoms. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.28 percent.

The major stock indexes recorded fresh record highs last week but did not post gains as strong as the week before.

Are the Academy Awards' declining audience numbers related to the market's new high?  I don't know, but I do know that the latter message is one that everyone, except the professional protesters, can embrace.

* Goldwyn's (or whoever's) original message was, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union."  For those readers under 60, Western Union was once the company that sent telegrams.  And telegrams are... 

... [f]or more than 150 years, messages of joy, sorrow and success came in signature yellow envelopes hand-delivered by a courier. 

The company delivered its last message 11 years ago.  But Goldwyn's 100-year-old advice is eternal.