The Responsibility of Awards Season
The awards season needs to do more than just award the “best”
By Andrew Byrd
Awards season is about more than just choosing the best “Art of the Year.” It should be more about elevating art that would otherwise be overlooked. Award shows are watched by many and often sway viewers to experience productions they usually would not be tempted to seek out. So voters should look beyond just quality in what they present to the public as the best, while also nominating more mainstream media to interest audiences.
A recent example of this is the Oscars. This year, the nominees include a mix of popular movies that draw in mainstream audiences, like “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” as well as lesser-known independent features such as “The Favourite” and “Roma.” The variety of genres greatly benefits the film industry because it attracts audiences with popular films while creating interest in smaller films. When awards shows solely nominate box office successes or mainstream films, they either lose an opportunity to promote indie films or alienate viewers from watching their program.
This is a problem that has occurred most noticeably with this year’s Grammys. The awards show has often been critiqued for consistently only awarding very successful albums. For the last couple of years, Album of the Year has gone only to popular artists with high sales numbers. This fails to lift up less successful musicians whose work may be just as good or even better. While the appearance of popular celebrities creates a widely-viewed show, it harms the lesser-knowns within the music industry who deserve recognition.
Awards shows need to strike a balance that simultaneously creates buzz, while also lifting up smaller artists whose works deserve to be recognized. It is this balance that awards shows should be accountable for in order to celebrate art of all forms.