A row of trophies from the Oscars.
Flickr/Marcin Wichary A row of trophies from the Oscars. Each year, award shows are panned for being bad, but are their shortcomings actually what makes them valuable?

Hot Take HOTTER Take is a weekly column ran by opinion editor Vincent Rendon with takes hotter than the passion Bradley Cooper clearly felt for Lady Gaga during their performance at the 2019 Oscars.

Few cultural mainstays have felt the death of cable TV as hard as awards shows. They feel out of place in media: they are long, rarely satisfying, self-aggrandizing and deeply commercial. Critics are keen to point out how much they dislike them, and audiences seem to agree as viewership numbers steadily decline. Many of them have been marred in controversy, such as the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag from a few years ago. Even when they lack social controversy, they are often panned for poor award selections, like when “Green Book” won best picture or “The Heist” won best hip-hop album. The Oscars are perhaps the most high profile show and receive tons of well-deserved criticism each year. If someone straight-up said the Oscars are bad, I would be hesitant to disagree. I still like them.

Hot Take—Awards shows are bad, but very good

Yes, award shows are bad. They rarely respect the audience and exist mostly to brag about their own respective industries. I think this bad-ness does not matter because ultimately award shows do something far greater: give me things to talk about. Every dumb thing, bad decision, and bizarre moment is something I can talk about the next day. Any occasional actually fun moment is merely a cherry on the top of the real prize. Humble end of the year lists from online publications or the few remaining ones in print do not capture the lavishness of these stupid shows, and thus are way less fun to discuss. So even though award shows are bad, I need them and I love what they give me, and I hope they never fade into obscurity. 

HOTTER Take—I hope award shows decline in quality

The best moments at any award show are the worst ones. The moments where it feels like all sanity has left the room, and like the production facade is being ripped away. These are the moments I crave, and I hope this next Oscars is just a beautiful disgrace. If they make good decisions and things run smoothly, I will cry. “Hey did you see they made the right decision last night?” is not a good conversation. I hope the weirdos who select these awards go off their rocker and give best picture to “Joker” but best actor to Johnathan Pryce just to mess with us. I hope Timothee Chalamet grabs the microphone like Kanye and talks about how Greta Gerwig deserves best director. I hope Adam Driver falls off the stage and someone blames Meryl Streep for it. I want all the mess—and all the chaos—because that is what award shows should be about. 

Vincent Rendon can be reached at Vrendon@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.