Why Award Shows have Lost their Purpose

Sirianna Blanck, Editor-in-chief

The Golden Globes were canceled on January 9, 2022, being announced to anyone not invited to the private ceremony on the official Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and Golden Globe Awards Instagram page and website rather than in a televised event. I found this much preferable to sitting through a few hours of ad breaks and movie/TV clips only to go to bed before the final awards of the night, AKA the ones I actually care about like Best Television Series – Drama (“Succession” won this year as it should) or Best Motion Picture – Drama (going to “The Power of the Dog,” a movie on my watchlist, not because of the award, but a YouTuber I follow). Now, the Golden Globes weren’t changed this year because Hollywood finally realized award shows don’t make sense anymore in the age of the internet; it wasn’t even because of COVID-19. It was canceled because the HFPA has been largely exposed over the last few years for sexual harassment and sexism, lack of diversity, and allegedly taking bribes. With so much backlash inside Hollywood itself (and a tumultuous pandemic), it made no sense to run the show live like everything was normal. However, this cancellation begs the question, do we even need award shows anymore?

In a world of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and every other streaming service out there, along with cable TV and Hollywood blockbusters that are still trying to stay relevant, there is far too much media for award shows to even closely make a list of award nominees that A) every viewer will be interested in and B) accurately identifies all the talented artists who put out work during the year. When I looked at the upcoming Grammy nominees, I couldn’t help but scoff. I had barely listened to a single song or artist on the list, or at least not by choice. Not only does no one listen to the radio anymore, at least in Gen Z, but sites like Spotify apparently have at least 60,000 new musical uploads every single day. How do you find the most deserving of the award Song of the Year when there is new music every single second of the year entering our ears? Spotify’s allowance of anyone to upload music to the site means that anyone can be a breakout star, especially if they happen to go TikTok viral, but these award shows are still stuck in the past of Hollywood, L.A., and New York nepotism, in my humble opinion, reliant on connections, names, and money to continue running.

Now some award shows can still make sense to me, like the Tony Awards. No one just uploads their own musicals to YouTube in their free time, save a few, and Broadway enthusiasts don’t have the same problem Netflix viewers do when selecting from the sheer numbers of movies and TV to watch and review. It’s a niche enough award show that it can still do its job. However, award shows like the Streamy Awards (created to honor YouTubers) don’t make any sense to me. Overall, though, when I’m talking about award shows in this article, I’m talking about either TV, movies, or music being given awards.

Prior to the internet, I imagine winning an award would drastically improve a movie or show’s prestige and viewership. However, today we no longer need these award shows to give them good press. Word of mouth wasn’t enough to carry a show or movie, but today word of mouth, or more so words of users, are enough to revive interest in shows long dead or provide a boost of interest when first coming out. Almost all media these days have “fandoms” or fans behind them spreading the word about why they’re good. These creators may appreciate and love an award like Best Director, but they don’t need it to be considered well-known, successful, or talented.

From the beginning, movies and television have never needed awards to determine their excellence. Every year you hear about talent getting snubbed at award shows, like how past Blue & Gold Editor-In-Chief Ethan Rotnem believed Ed Sheeran had unfairly won Best Pop Vocal Album in 2018. Everyone seems to know that award shows don’t actually represent the talent of the material made during the year, so why does the media keep pushing them and why do we keep tuning in?

I think most likely for the spectacle of it. I usually see more buzz over the red carpet looks and who showed up with which date than the award recipients themselves. Some of my favorite series on YouTube include Cody Ko and Kelsey Kreppel reviewing Red Carpet looks, which is usually how I find out an award show even happened these days. I admit I’d miss seeing the bizarre, and sometimes wonderful, outfits designers put together for these events if they were to disappear.

I know these award shows aren’t going anywhere. Whether they actually want to recognize more diverse talent or just keep promoting their own film houses and friends, organizations like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are big enough to keep hosting the Golden Globes as long as they want, but I won’t be surprised the day the number of award shows starts to dwindle and Stan Twitter has better celebrity coverage than the press at the Golden Globes (in fact it might already).