The Grammys took place this Sunday, Jan. 26, and if you’re anything like me, you didn’t even realize. More important things were happening, and besides, who cares about award shows anymore?
Ratings for award shows across all mediums have been dropping for years now, and less people are tuning in to watch celebrities brag about themselves, name-drop every person they’ve worked with or just insist they don’t deserve the award anyway. It’s a tired tradition, and one that people aren’t even engaging with anymore, especially with how much incredible art and artists are snubbed every year.
Tyler, the Creator said it best in his press conference interview after winning Best Rap Album. “On one side, I’m very grateful that what I made can be acknowledged in a world like this. But, also, it sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre-bending or anything — they also put it in a rap or urban category. And I don’t like the ‘urban’ word. It’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word.”
Tyler makes the excellent point that these award shows never give proper credit where it’s due. IGOR deserved a nomination for “Album of the Year” with the waves that it sent through the industry. Read any review of his album, and everyone else will have said it already — the album is emotionally honest, experimentally perfect and down right f*cking awesome. For IGOR to be shut out of any Pop categories is crazy to me, and many others, and points at the larger issue.
Look at all the movies and artists that the Oscars snubbed this year as well. “Uncut Gems,” “The Farewell” and “Us” are just a few movies that deserved nominations, to which they received none. Actors like Awkwafina, Jennifer Lopez, Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy all received no credit. Female directors and people of color don’t exist to the Academy and it’s getting old for viewers of the Oscars to continuously see talent and skill fall to the wayside for more white men doing mediocre stuff on the screen.
I saw “Joker.” It was fine. Does it deserve 11 Oscar nominations? Absolutely not. Not when all the other amazing films and stars from this year are being ignored.
This trend for award shows has been discussed for years now as well, from social media movements like #oscarssowhite to the current controversy with the Grammys, detailed by former CEO of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan. Dugan explained in a 46-page legal complaint a variety of things wrong with the Academy, and how it’s tainted the award show for years. Bianca Betancourt and Erica Gonzales from Harper’s Bazaar give an excellent account of this controversy in their article “What You Need to Know About the Grammys Controversy,” which I encourage everyone to read.
However, even with the ratings dropping every year, why can’t we stop tuning in all together? What keeps drawing audiences in? Well, because we are fiends for external validation. Every time “Fleabag” won an award this season, my brain was firing out endorphins like never before. Knowing I loved a show worthy of Academy praise makes me think that I have good taste in television, that I’m smart and consume high culture art.
When art that we like is acknowledged by a panel of ominous critics and experts, or at least who we perceive as experts, we get excited. We want the suspense to be released, and find out if everyone agreed with us on this art being good.
Is it all meaningless? Yes, and usually tainted by racism, sexism and nepotism. But why can’t we stop watching and playing into these award shows? Because we all want to be validated. From here on out, I suggest a transition away from the arbitrary nature of these award selections, and just keep appreciating art for what it is and what we like. And I hope eventually, award shows follow suit and start nominating the most deserving people, in the right categories for the right reasons.