And then they wonder why ratings are falling and interest is waining. Last year, a big hubbub was created when famous street artist Banksy wanted to come to the Oscars in a monkey mask to preserve his legendary anonymity. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to come at all but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who nominated the artist’s film for Best Documentary Feature, told him he couldn’t attend if he dressed like that.

This year, Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the leads of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, the film that leads all others with 11 nominations. Rumors had begun circling that he might use the red carpet oppurtunity to dress in full costume and promote his summer release The Dictator, in which he plays the vile leader of a small country. This wasn’t confirmed, it was just a rumor.

The Academy has reportedly now responded to those rumors by pulled Baron Cohen’s tickets, all but banning him from Sunday’s awards. Read more after the jump, including an update.

Deadline reported the news of Cohen’s tickets being revoked “unless they’re assured” he won’t make a mockery of the red carpet.

[UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the Academy who said "We haven't banned him, we're just waiting to hear what he's going to do." Which is a nice way of saying, he can come if he doesn't dress as The Dictator.]

Soapbox time.

Isn’t the red carpet, already, a mockery of itself? Viewers and “experts” do nothing but judge all the celebrities on their fashion sense and beauty as opposed to their work while “journalists” ask hard hitting questions about projects we’ve been hearing about for over a year. To most people, the whole thing is an insulting joke already. However it’s tradition so we deal with it but it’s completely pointless.

Unless, of course, something interesting happens. For example Lady Gaga in the egg a few years back at the MTV Video Music Awards. Or Deadmau5 wearing a fellow DJ’s telephone number on his shirt at the Grammys. These were funny, interesting things that happened and made people buzz about the red carpet.

Enter the perfect person, Sacha Baron Cohen, who has made a career of being brilliant and polarizing. One would think he’d be a bit of fresh air amongst the stuck up celebrities strolling the red carpet this weekend and give the awards a bit of buzz. But the Oscars are all about class and black tuxes. Not humor, fun and spontaneity. They’d never ever let something silly happen at their show. Like James Franco and Anne Hathaway host. Or studios buying the awards.

Odds are, Baron Cohen’s team will assure the Academy he’ll be a good boy and the actor will show up but the simple fact that this was an issue at all proves the Oscars need a massive, massive reimagining. It’s what Hollywood is good at anyway, isn’t it?

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