Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Thank the Academy" analyzes Oscar speeches & gender issues in interactive site


Just in time for this year's Oscars comes Thank the Academy, an interactive site based on analysis of more than 200 Oscar speeches beginning in 1953 in the major categories. Rebecca Rolfe, a master's candidate in digital media, looked at the speeches to find verbal and physical expressions of gratitude, and came up with lots of data you can use as a spectator--or to craft your own acceptance speech. Because she watched video of the speeches and tabulated gender differences, you'll learn some interesting trivia, such as:

  • The average speech length is getting longer--starting at less than a minute in the 1960s, now closer to two minutes. In the 1970s, '80s and '90s, women's acceptance speeches were quite a bit shorter than those of male actors. Today, women and men deliver acceptances of just under two minutes, with only one second's difference on average.
  • 47 percent of the women winning Oscars clutch the statuette, compared to just 21 percent of the men. Twenty-six percent of the men hold it over their heads victoriously, while just 12 percent of women do.
  • Acceptance speeches with notes are longer--just over two minutes--than the extemporaneous ones, which average about one minute, 23 seconds.
  • More women say thanks "so much," at 33 percent, compared to just 13 percent of the men who win Oscars.
And for those playing along at home Sunday night, this analysis solves a question I've long had: The conductor cuts in with music at one minute, 30 seconds, to prompt the long-winded winners to wind up, but those interrupted by music generally clock in at two minutes, 12 seconds, by the time they're done.

Read more about the research, with an interview with Rolfe, in this TIME article. What do you think about this research?


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