In this instance I’m talking about awards that are a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of fact: Oscars, Grammys, Cannes Lions, Sports Personality of the Year, Rear of the Year, BAFTAs etc.
Well, let’s take a look at the supposed pros and cons:
They serve to stimulate. In theory, other people who work in the industry being awarded see what gets the awards and it inspires them to greater heights in their own work.
They publicise the industry and work concerned, so that perhaps more people will be interested in becoming musicians, ‘rears’ etc. This grows the talent pool for future ‘better’ work.
They generate money for some people. For example, the advertising revenue created by the Oscars ceremony keeps the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences going all year.
Award dos are fun.
To many people they are proof that the awarded people are good at what they do, and therefore worthy of employment.
The idea that matters of opinion become matters of fact (eg: the winner of the Oscar for Best Screenplay is considered by many to be the best screenplay of that year) closes off avenues of creativity. People who are inspired by these works then believe that such work is what they should aspire to, leading to a repetition of the winning work rather than actual innovation. There is definitely an ‘Oscar’ type of film and, I would argue, a typical Cannes Grand Prix winner, which can only be a symptom of the dead hand of familiarity guiding the judges’ decisions
They clearly don’t lead to better work. Are the movies of the last ten years better than those of the Seventies? What about the music? Are ads better now than they ever have been? Of course not. So even with shoulders of giants to stand on and millions of awards to inspire us, the improvement is virtually non-existant.
Most are a thin, pointless sham, with no intrinsic value, and therefore a waste of money. Add up all the award entries and event organisations across the world and you have billions that could be better spent on feeding the starving or building the giant ark we’re all going to need when the Polar ice caps melt.
They have an importance that takes precedence over what the art is attempting to achieve. Call me cynical, but I have a feeling that some advertising creatives would rather win awards (ie, have the approval of seven people a bit like themselves) than have a 10% increase in sales (ie change the behaviour of millions). I also have a feeling people (possibly including Anthea Turner) have deliberately performed buttock-enhancing exercises to improve their chances of winning Rear of the Year. Both are sad states of affairs.
So what do you think?
Are awards a GOOD THING or a SHIT THING? (No comments suggesting they’re a bit of both/somewhere in between please.)