Mark Wahlberg defends the Academy's decision to add a popular film category to the Oscars. The new award category will recognize "outstanding achievement in popular film," allowing major blockbuster films to be awarded in an area outside of technical achievements. While some have argued that the category's inclusion is an insult, Wahlberg is among those who see it as an open door.
The Academy Awards show has a history of altering its content since it began in 1929. Over time, categories have been omitted, created, and altered to fit new standards. One case in particular includes the Academy's decision to include up to 10 nominations for the Best Picture award in the 2009 ceremony. This alteration was intended to allow more space for recognition of films - namely popular ones - that were being overlooked on a yearly basis. Now, with the inclusion of a category specifically aimed at popular films, many are raising issue with whether a film's inclusion in such a category will be a disservice to how it is viewed as a work of art.
Wahlberg does not share this concern. In a recent interview with Variety at the premiere of his new film, Mile 22, the actor claimed the category will actually be a good thing for many films. "There are a lot of great films out there that happen to be very popular and haven’t been recognized that probably deserve the recognition," he said. Wahlberg, who has certainly performed in popular films - Ted, Daddy's Home, and the Transformers franchise, to name a few - may even wish the category came a little sooner. "Maybe if they’d had the category before, we’d have won a couple of them,” Wahlberg said. “We’ve had some really commercially successful films that we think certainly warranted that kind of notoriety."
Regardless of whether or not the star would have received a popular film award had the category existed when Ted was released, the fact remains that he has been nominated for two Academy Awards already. In 2007 he was up for the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in The Departed, and in 2011 The Fighter, which he starred in and co-produced, was nominated for Best Picture.
With the news of the popular film category still fresh, it will be interesting to see what films end up being nominated and on what basis the Academy will determine those nominees. For many stars like Wahlberg who can be seen in a Best Picture nominee in the same year as a major comedy film, the new category does certainly appear to broaden the areas in which talent can be recognized. Wahlberg may very well be included in the category in coming years, and he seems to be excited about the possibilities. To paraphrase Wahlberg and quote his character in the popular film The Other Guys, "I'm a peacock... You gotta let me fly!"