Why Award Shows Like The Emmys Are Underperforming!
The 70th Primetime Emmys ceremony had many highlights, from charming skits and even a marriage proposal. The ceremony was one of the more memorable awards ceremonies in recent history for being decently well-paced and for the most part entertaining to watch. Yet, the ratings were not reflective of that, since the ceremony was seen by only 10.2 million, a noticeable and consistent decline in ratings from years past. So, what gives?
The first sad fact that one must accept is that the peak years for all types of awards ceremonies seem to be gone. Every year Nielsen ratings for the various awards shows such as the Emmys, the Grammy’s, the Oscar's, or the VMA’s, show that as a whole awards ceremonies have lost both public fascination and veneration from the artists.
Our nation's recent political and racial battles have been highly visible during awards ceremonies, as they can be seen during speeches and comedic skits. Yet, politics and race issues are not entirely to blame for the poor performance of awards ceremonies since the decline of awards ceremonies started well before the Trump administration and movements such as #MeToo or #OscarsSoWhite were formed.
If one was going to break down why awards shows just aren’t as important or obsessed about by the masses, you could not pin point one singular factor. Instead, the decline of awards shows is likely due to the changes to the public, the artists, the awards ceremonies, and the art itself.
In the last decade, with the help of technology the public is no longer waiting for awards ceremonies to tell them what was great in entertainment, because they know already. Technology has made critics of us all, beyond even the entertainment sector-‘Yelp!’ for example. Awards shows don’t allow us, the public to criticize and participate, instead we are forced to sit, and wait while others tell us what was the best of the year in entertainment. This passive experience fails to satisfy in 2018.
Artists have for the most part always tried to seem humble. Humility was respected. Loosing graciously was also an admirable characteristic. Well, for anyone living under a rock, in 2018 the only time you might hear the word “humble” is if Kendrick Lamar is being played. The artists of 2018 are not interested in humility. Many times when an artist looses professionally in today’s times, the artist will insist that they were “robbed” and will proceed to attack the awards ceremony voting committee or other artists of favoritism. The continuous attack by artists on awards ceremonies has led some of them to boycott the ceremonies, a huge departure from the past when artists were grateful just to be in attendance. The lost of respect and veneration by artists on industry “awards” is very significant, because if they don’t care if they win an award then why should anyone else.
The Awards Ceremonies
Awards ceremonies have changed from the standard model they used to be. In the past, the quintessential model would have been to have a charming host lead the ceremony which would begin with a spectacular opening number, then he/she would lead the evening from one to the next guest presenters, until the end when the ceremony would be concluded by thanking everyone involved and wishing the public a goodnight.
In an effort to stay “modern” we have seen that model continuously played with at different awards ceremonies. Some ceremonies don’t have an opening number. Some don’t even have a host. This strategy has birthed many awkward and lifeless awards ceremonies. Keeping up with the times has made award shows slaves to the metrics of social media, and time and time again we see awards shows pitifully attempting to make a “moment” happen that will hopefully go viral. Social media has also notably lessened the importance of awards ceremonies because award ceremonies used to be one of the few times in the past when you could see stars especially all dressed up. With platforms such as Twitter and Snapchat, fans no longer need to rely on awards ceremonies and red carpet interviews to see and hear their favorite stars.
There has always been a divide between the kind of entertainment we all know is trashy or campy but that we enjoy consuming, and works that clearly aim at being artful and important. In the past, some of our favorite movies were so lacking in artistry that we knew that song/movie/show would never in a million years be represented in any of the important awards shows. That divide has become leaner and less easy to justify over time as the quality of some of these seemingly less artistic works rival in quality traditional “serious” offerings. Awards shows have gotten it wrong many times in recent years, where a work’s artistry is overlooked simply because they may seem too non-traditionalist a contender. Viewers can’t be expected to passionately invested in who will win if they see only certain type of projects are being celebrated.
Overall, the Emmy’s and other awards ceremonies need to re-establish the importance of winning one of their awards by reminding viewers that those nominated are the best in their respective fields. The only way to do this effectively is to start being inclusive of all types of artistic expression. Once artists and the public see that not just those that fit the traditionalist mold are being represented, then the belief that winning one of these big awards genuinely means something can begin to be restored.