With a new year comes the next batch of award shows. Things start off with the Golden Globes, followed a few weeks later by the Grammy’s, and then the Oscars roll around late February. Musicians, actors, directors, and all sorts of show-biz types dress up in overly expensive outfits, some easily costing more than $100,000. Even more untold sums of cash have been spent on films, albums, production, tours, and a whole slew of other trinkets and events to make this or that film or this or that song the next victor. A-list celebrities stuff themselves into a room like sardines in a can, waiting to see who is named this year’s “Best [Insert Here].”
And I don’t care. It’s not that I hate these programs. I just don’t care.
In the past, I maybe watched the Oscars three times, the Golden Globes once or twice and I have never seen the Grammy’s. Usually it was because I had a favorite film or a favorite actor in the running. And usually, it turned out the opposite way I had hoped for.
But my indifference comes with a few reasons. First and foremost, it always seems like the biggest movies never get nominated. Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t the best thing to hit the big screens. But it was still a fantastic movie. I’m not suggesting it should have won Best Picture. What I am suggesting is it should have been at least nominated for more than five of the least cared about categories. No one cares about “Best Production Design.”
Of course, the typical rebuttal is to say that the Oscars (and the other award programs) are about art, and art is not necessarily what sells the best at the box office or has the most fanboys. Fair enough. Unfortunately, the judges don’t seem to care much about the art either. For example, some of the Oscar judges don’t even watch the movies they vote for, which makes one wonder how they pick. History suggests bribes and campaigning as more realistic reasons. Winning an award sounds a lot like running for political office.
Speaking of politics, the aura of self-importance never fails to be among the special guests at any award show. The Oscars are famous for their political moments, which include the shout out to DREAMers. First, I think most people are bombarded with politics enough as it is that they don’t really want to be thinking about the President or Congress or a movement when they just want to see their favorite movie or artist represented. Instead, millionaires and the modern equivalent of royalty give long, uninspiring speeches trying to make them appear more relatable. An easy example is Leonardo DiCaprio, who during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, preached to the millions of viewers about climate change. This is the same person who flew in a private jet to accept a “green award” for his effort against climate change. The irony can be too much at times.
Of course, this isn’t to say celebrities should avoid politics. I’m not even saying they should be “equally” partisan (it’s no secret Hollywood bleeds blue like a Smurf). But I believe they make these spectacles for a reason. Simply put, these awards shows are not about recognizing art, they’re about making money. Period. And therefore, these stunts aren’t about bringing political change or raising awareness. Ultimately, they’re about raking in more cash for people who have enough of it already. I suspect the winners of each award are selected, in part, because of the gossip it will bring–both positive and negative.
With all the forces at work, including bribes, campaigning, and the desire for views and profit, there is not a way to say the awards are based on artistic merit. I think the greatest shame is how the real artists are treated. Their work is not viewed as art, but as a way to make a scene, to speed up the gossip mill, to get a political frenzy going, all to get a few more bucks. With all this in mind, the award-show industry has lost my respect. Therefore, I don’t watch.