Oscars culture reveals our fascinating relationships with spectacle, fantasy and money

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Shallow red carpet frippery? Blustery establishment voting? Obnoxious privileged millionaires? There’s plenty to dismiss about the Oscars, but no night reveals quite so much about the state of our relationships with spectacle, fantasy and money.

Here, five academics take a look into the cultures that intersect the awards and whether you love or hate the Oscars they’re well worth a read.

The films

From Mad Max to The Revenant, this year’s nomination list is filled with brutal survival stories. What explains our fascination with these in 2016? Fellow Catherine Redford gets under the genre’s skin.

The gowns

Dress historian Marie McLoughlin examines the culture of red carpet fashion and what we can learn.

The speeches

What history can teach us about giving a good Oscar winning speech – and what to avoid, by communication lecturer Tom Clark.

The money

Hollywood is eyeing the massive Chinese market as it looks to expand. But there’s another reason why it is pushing so hard. Economics professor Caroline Elliott explains how China’s own film industry, now second largest in terms of revenue, is seen as a major competitor.

The diversity problem

Like many before it, 2016’s overwhelmingly white nominations list has thrown up some difficult questions about race. Film and media studies lecturer Eddy von Mueller goes behind the curtain of the Academy’s old boys’ club to tease out deep-rooted diversity problems.