by Quentin Singer
From the Oscars to the Grammys to lesser known award shows, it seems as though audiences around the world are losing interest in the results and entertainment these events provide. The Grammys had a record breaking decline this year, with a 24% decrease in its total viewers. Whether it’s the entertainment value or the validity behind each nominee/winner, somethings off with award shows, and it begs the question should we care about them anymore? With constant public outcry for racial and gender representation in film, people aren’t staying interested. The impact of seeing characters that reflect the viewing audience shouldn’t be lost on the Academy (look at the recent success of Black Panther), and it’s embarrassing that these relevant topics have to be explained to those in power. Shows like the Oscars haven’thad the best viewing track record. Over the past 17 years, view counts have fluctuated from a low point of 31 million (2008) to a high point of 46 million (2000).
An interesting difference between film and music based awards are the qualifications. Winning an Oscar doesn’t require a film to be a top grossing block buster hit, and if that were the case Marvel and Star Wars movies would be winning just about every year. Instead film and tv awards lean towards social and historical references, with 2016’s best picture being a perfect example: Spotlight tackled the true story of the Boston Globe report on Catholic priest molestations. While a film like Spotlight was truly eye-opening, it wasn’t widely released when it first came out. With music awards, however, it seems quite the opposite: popularity and sales seem to be the most important qualification. The past two album of year awards for instance, have been by two artists with some of the highest sales and streaming metrics: Adele’s Hello and recently Bruno Mars’s 24k Magic.
More often than not, the Grammy awards are criticized for eschewing political/social awareness for popularity. People were in shock over Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly losing to Taylor Swift’s 1989, and for good reason: why should a well produced album of social importance lose to an album completely lacking said importance? IWhen the Grammy or Oscar awards pick a truly diverse group of deserving winners, it shouldn’t be so significant to the public, rather it should be the norm.
I can see why people want a hiatus from these kind of events, and ultimately, it’s the expectation of cool never-before-seen performances that are keeping viewers engaged at all.