OPINION: Are the Grammys and Other Award Shows Outdated?
(Photo from Digital Music News)
It’s that time of year again, when award shows are abundant and the controversies surrounding each one is headlining news outlets. Recently, the 2019 Grammys aired with drama, accusations, and controversy galore — Ariana Grande pulled out of attending and performing at the last minute and critics ripped apart J-Lo’s Motown performance, to name just a few. The New York Times reported that last year’s Grammys ratings dropped 24%. It seems that award show viewers cannot get through the show without either losing interest or becoming angered by the results.
People have been constantly upset with the nominations, saying that certain artists, albums or movies are being snubbed. Viewers are chronically discontented with the results, vouching for their favorite pick over another. Some make the argument that award shows are outdated or rigged based on the fact that their top choice did not win. I can think of countless times where this happened to me. For example, when Beyoncé was up for album of the year and they gave it to Beck — an artist a lot of viewers were unfamiliar with.
While outspoken fans give examples of how their particular choice is revolutionary, skilled and/or pleasing to mass audiences, these kinds of arguments are invalid because they are based on personal opinion. But they may on to something by demanding, or asking, the academies to reveal their reasons behind choosing the winning pick.
There is never any explanation as to why this movie/show/album deserved recognition. Letting viewers understand the reasoning behind the process could help manage the backlash the academy receives when choosing an unfavorable winner.
America loves a good competition. Meritocracy drives these kinds of events, which are so focused on discerning a clear winner amongst above average works. This is why competition shows like Chopped or Biggest Loser have such high ratings. People are not as excited to watch a show where everyone receives a trophy for participating. Therefore, changing the format of the biggest award shows would not resonate with the general public. Going inside the process and fixing the roots of the issue would most likely bode well with the viewers. This could help diminish controversy between viewers, artists and the academy.
Providing their reasoning could also lead to more diverse winnings. In the past, viewers have been upset with the lack of diversity in the nominees and winners. In an industry which prides itself on having minority group representation, diversity is not reflected in the award shows. Recently, the Grammys have taken steps to address this issue to try and deflect the criticism. In early October, the Grammy voting committee sent out invitations to over 900 diverse music creators asking them to join the voting committee.
In an official statement from the chair of the task force, Tina Tchen, explained how “invitations were sent to vocalists, songwriters, producers, instrumentalists and engineers from a range of music genres, ethnicities, age and gender groups, recommended by the Recording Academy and its independent Diversity & Inclusion Task Force.”
The Grammys did an effective job addressing the issue at stake and creating real change in lieu of the controversy. Merely denying the criticism, or issuing an apology statement, would not have been enough. Taking such strides towards improvement reflects well on their part, and constructively fixes the issue. Other award shows should look to the Grammys as an example of how to handle these kinds of issues and to modernize their old ways.
By making sure all kinds of media are represented in the nominations, having a diverse group of nominees and voting members, confirming no corruption goes on within the voting process, and letting young people voice opinions and perspectives are all critically important. Taking these steps towards a better award show solves their problem and modernizes the award show process. Through these changes, viewers can continue to enjoy old traditions with new aspects.