Why Awards for Artists Suck

Okay, so I have more than a little vino in me, but so what. What else is there to do on a Sunday night in Santa Barbara, California. I could sit and lament about the fact that all around me is new wealth and old money, but fuck it. Why brood upon what I don't have, when I can sit and fantasize about what could be instead. As I sit here and write this, my thoughts turn to the puerile and insipid idea of the awards show. You know what I mean, those obnoxious broadcasts that all come at once every year on the boob tube reminding you that you're no closer to the "in-crowd" than when you were in high school. Let's face it, the award shows are a popularity contest, but with loads of money at stake. And they suck.

I was going to write this column a week ago, during the actual Academy Awards ceremony, but my first draft got lost when I tried to publish it, and I got suicidal about the whole affair. So, I drank to try and forget. There's almost nothing worse for a writer than to have lost an inspired piece of writing to a computer glitch. Anyway, here I am trying a second draft in a desperate attempt to recapture the spirit of the first. It'll never be as good.

A few days before the ceremony, my sister e-mailed me with a request to help her pick the Oscar winners. Apparently, there are Oscar parties all over the country in which people actually vote on the nominees, and the one who gets the most right, wins. Whether or not money's involved I have no idea, but it wouldn't surprise me. After all, gambling on big events like these has become a national pastime. My sister asked me to provide a list of, "who's going to win, not who should win". That got a smile out of me because, as most people know, these awards are not about who should win, but who's going to win. Since I hadn't seen any of the movies nominated, I instead went to the web to see what the "buzz" was, and then compared this with my own intuition and knowledge of the industry. By the way, I've always been able to pick the winners with almost 100% accuracy, whether I've seen the movies or not, for at least a decade. How am I able to do this? Easy, if you know Hollywood-think. Anyway, I went through the ballot and picked who I thought was “going” to win and e-mailed the list back to her. She was very grateful, as she bombed out on last year's awards, she's so not-Hollywood, and wanted to redeem herself in front of her Oscar Party friends. I got all but four correct. Two were technical (sound editing & sound mixing), and the other two were categories where no one's seen the films anyway (Best Short Live Action Film & Best Documentary Short). Needless to say, she was ecstatic after the ceremony. I just shrugged, "another year no one will remember in the next".

I think what pisses me off most about awards for artists, is that it's treated like a sporting event. As if there are clear-cut winners and losers. For a sporting event, this makes sense. If one team scores more points than the other, they win. It's simplicity is reassuring in a not-so-simple world. That's why people like sports. That's why people like Bush. But that's for another rant. Art is not so clear cut. It's subjective, and open to nuance and interpretation. Sure, every once in awhile someone comes along and creates what is clearly a masterpiece. But it's rare. Yet, year after fucking year the industry bestows upon its few lucky-enough-to-be-the-it-boy/girl-chosen-that-year, the award of "best", as if it actually existed. Of course, when announcing the "best" winners, they say, "...and the Oscar goes to...", as if this somehow makes it more palatable to the losers. It's all bullshit. I'd have more respect if they went back to saying, "...and the WINNER is...", because after all, they are the winners aren't they? And winning means money. Which is why studios keep the machine of the awards shows going. After all, this is a business right? So, the studios push for their films to be considered for all sorts of awards to reap the additional box office benefits. Hence, the proliferation of award shows. Awards are a marketing strategy. A racket. Artists go along with it, because who doesn't like being recognized for their work. Just don't ever take it seriously, because you're an idiot if you do. It's akin to taking the homecoming queen crown seriously. Nice for the ego, if you're into that sort of thing, but ultimately meaningless.

So, I'm happy to keep picking the winners for my sister, as she could really care less about the so-called art. All that matters is, "who's going to win". And that about sums up awards for artists. Who's going to win. Well, who really gives a rats fucking ass. Not me. That is until I get one myself. Then I can be popular and rich, and my life will finally have meaning.

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