Award shows have always been about more than just art.
There’s an obvious sense of prestige behind them — an excitement about which high-brow members of society will be seen in their best dressed. We lovers of film, television, music and theater sit glued to our screens during these award shows to find out who comes out on top and who loses. Who was robbed of the recognition they rightfully deserved? Who gave the most emotional speech to the audience and us at home, as we spooned half-melted ice cream into our mouths and sobbed?
While these award shows can certainly be entertaining and moving, there are a number of problems deeply rooted in the institutions they serve and the beliefs they enforce. That’s not to say they aren’t needed — it can be quite fun to watch our favorite artists and works of art receive praise. However, as consumers of entertainment media, we should always be wary of the ways award shows are used as tools to distract people from deeply-rooted problems in the entertainment industry.
Not only that, but we all know award shows are entirely subjective, with the most important opinions often coming from rich, white, powerful individuals whose tastes don’t always reflect a wide variety of interests.
We’ve seen this truth acknowledged with hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite, which originated after nominations for the 88th Oscar Awards were released and featured an all-white ensemble for best lead and supporting roles. Ironically, the host that year was Chris Rock, who addressed racism in Hollywood with cheesy punchlines, seemingly-woke insight and a matter-of-fact attitude that was downright frustrating.
A year after, the Oscars made sure not to have the same controversy surrounding their ceremony by giving some of the best awards to black actors and films — “Moonlight” with best picture (although the delivery was fuddled) Viola Davis for best supporting actress and Mahershala Ali for best supporting actor.
Not to mention last year’s Oscars ceremony occurred alongside the rising #MeToo movement, which has exposed numerous members of the entertainment industry and several previous Oscar winners. On top of that, the upcoming 91st Oscars ceremony could be scrambling to find a new host, since host-to-be Kevin Hart recently stepped down after receiving backlash for several homophobic tweets he made years ago.
This year, controversy has already begun to rise with nominations for the Grammys recently released on Friday, Dec. 7. Music-lovers have taken to various social media platforms to express their distaste for the poor selection of Best Record nominees, despite all the great albums released in 2018. But this is nothing new — people are always hurt when their own favorites don’t make the cut for various categories. Which is all the more reason to disregard the so-called “importance” of award shows like the Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes and Tonys. They can’t please everyone, and if you’re not a white, rich man, chances are you’ll disagree with some of the choices anyway.
On top of everything else, who’s to say committees that choose the winners of each award actually thoroughly watch or listen to each nominee? Award shows based on audience voting, like the People’s Choice Award, are usually never given the same amount of attention that the Oscars and Grammys are. Such a large amount of time in film, television, music and theater is spent trying to impress a small population of people at the top of our social hierarchy.
In the end, award shows can be fun to watch for the glitz and glam or the drama, but to take them so seriously is just setting oneself up for disappointment.