Redundant nature of award shows detracts from importance

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If you?re reading this, then you probably just missed the 62nd annual Golden Globe Awards, which were televised on January 16. But fear not. The Oscars will be here on February 27. For that matter, in the coming days, so will the Emmy Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Screen Actors? Guild Awards, the People?s Choice Awards, the Espy Awards, and the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards...
The list goes on and on. In fact, according to the article ?Awards shows are decidedly not all about the statues,? by Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News, there were more than 40 awards shows on television in 2004. They celebrate everything from films to TV to music videos to personal style and pratfalls. MTV alone hosts three major awards shows in America, devoted to music, movies, and music videos, as well as major Asian and European music awards shows.
However, no matter what?s being celebrated, all this programming reveals the same truth: that the American entertainment industry is endlessly and hopelessly self-congratulating.
One reason for this recent proliferation of awards shows may be that they are relatively easy to coordinate and produce. Pick a spot, invite some people, grab a camera, and let the drama of winners and losers play out before your eyes. Afterward, entertainment news dailies such as Extra and any number of shows on VH1 can survive for weeks off of footage recycled from the red carpet.
This doesn?t mean these programs are worth watching. There are only so many movie stars or musical acts to go around in the United States, and seeing the same handful of people win for the same song or performance over and over should be tiring. Rarely does suspense come into play; often the audience already has a clear idea who is going to win, and in the case of music awards shows, the evening?s invited musical performers invariably end up taking home the trophy. Where?s the fun in that?
Added to this is the risk of a tacky, loud, cringe-inducing blowout studded with random celebrities and pointless commentary. Some shows may have the best intentions to sincerely reward performers for their merit and hard work. This still doesn?t mean they?ll be any good. Often, these shows seem to plan ahead of time what they want lampooned on Saturday Night Live.
That said, there are some ceremonies worth tuning in to. The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, remains one of the oldest and best awards shows to watch; its over-the-top drama of recent years has been toned down. You can always count on the clothes? being good, and if you?re lucky, you?ll get to see a starlet burst into undignified tears or Michael Moore booed off the stage. The unfortunate aspect of the Oscars is that few Americans have actually seen many of the nominated films, especially if they are foreign or anything other than a big-screen blockbuster.
Far more in tune with American tastes, particularly those of viewers under the age of 30, are shows like the MTV Movie Awards. This particular show blends the
sophisticated and the silly by doling out prizes for Best Villain, Best Fight, and Best Kiss along with Best Performance and Best Movie. Its lack of seriousness can be refreshing at times. Of course, the downside to a ceremony like this one is that these entertaining tidbits are swimming in a mind-numbing celebration of pop culture, a lot of which shouldn?t
be celebrated to begin with.
No matter the preference of the viewer, there remains an important question: Does any of it really matter? Are we going to remember ? or care ? who won for Best Sidekick in a primetime drama? Does the fact that a film wins for Best Cinematography mean that people are going to swarm the video store to rent it? Probably not. Of course, a lot of hard work goes into making a film, and recognition is always nice. But this recent influx of awards shows, and their often ridiculous contents, seems to be indicative of one thing above all else: Hollywood can?t think of anything better to do these days than pat itself on the back, over and over and over again.