Priceonomics

What are some of the biggest problems facing our society? Longish acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards has to be one of them, right?

At the Academy Awards (also know as the Oscars), you know an award winner’s speech has gone on too long when you hear the orchestra begin its usual get-off-the-stage tune. In fact, this song has a name: “Too Long,” directed by Bill Ross. Long-winded acceptance speeches have become such a defining part of the Oscars that Jack Black and Will Ferrell came up with their own shoo-off duet a couple years ago.

Average Speech Length at the Oscars, by Decade. Source: Washington Post

Over the past 50 years, Oscar acceptance speeches have gotten over a minute longer in length. In the 1960s, male and female winners stood up at the podium for an average of just 44 and 39 seconds, respectively. By the 2000s, the average speech lasted right under 2 minutes. 

Length of Televised Oscars Ceremony, by Year. Source: Slate

Not surprisingly, the longer speeches coincide with an Oscars ceremony that lasts one hour longer than it did 50 years ago. However, the show has gotten shorter in recent years in response to criticism. Nonetheless, whether motivated by a desire to be a political provocateur or simply to get in a few more thank-yous, we probably haven’t seen the last of long-winded acceptance speeches.

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