Opinion: In America, everything makes someone money


Rachel Godin is a junior magazine journalism major and columnist for The Daily Kent Stater.  Contact her at [email protected]  

Rachel Godin

With one momentous roar, the bejeweled Hollywood audience applauds with relief as a statue of a silver miniature man is handed over to a scantily clad woman who played a film character that challenged female stereotypes. A young, arrogant man accepts a hand-sized golden gramophone for sounding like a perfectly auto-tuned smoothie blend of Michael Jackson vocals, James Dean hair and barely altered classic pop melody. Between Jan. 1 and Mar. 2, millions of Americans sit with their eyes glazed and glued to HD screens while at least one of the 19 televised award shows brighten their darkened suburban living rooms.

These are the images I conjure when I think about award shows. These commercially successful celebrity evenings are the result of obsessive rooms full of name dropping, self-congratulations and incessant camera flares — precisely the opposite of how creative arts ought to be celebrated. I’m not cynical. I can have fun and enjoy pop culture here and there, but the award season is the perfect opportunity to bring attention to the lack of criticism aimed towards the entertainment system’s repulsive ability to commercialize any and every avenue of talent that can make management money.

In 1978, filmmaker Woody Allen commented on film awards shows, saying: “I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don’t think they know what they’re doing. When you see who wins those things — or who doesn’t win them — you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is.”

Networks cram awards shows into their schedules so advertisers will come their way with money, and the Academy Awards are referred to as the Super Bowl for women. Networks are aware of the American public’s obsession with the rich and famous and use this to fuel their profits — it’s not about what’s good and what’s not good; it’s about keeping people watching for as long as possible. What might be even worse is that there is a level of shallow critique power that combining live TV events with social media has given viewers, which makes them feel like a part in the culture they are seeing on television when they aren’t.

You switched on the Grammy’s or the Golden Globes — it gave you something menial to talk about with your friends. You analyzed the dresses, you discussed the dramatics, you posted and sent out a storm of hash tagged opinions and, just as the media mongers expected, your interest ceased. This is exactly what the media-mongers expected of you.

Media trivializes most art by smacking it with critical labels of glory and fame. It’s not right to generalize, but when it comes to music awards, the awards seem to be decided by insiders who place very little value on the integrity of music or the ability of an artist to try something that won’t necessarily appeal to the latest trends.

There is no denying that the entertainment business is a brilliant monster of self-marketing, but as much as the award seasons are made to seem like they are for the viewers at home, they’re really just targeting your interest in the individuals whose lifestyles you admire and whose characters were written for them. Most music award shows are one long commercial for the ever-bland, ever-popular radio music that drowns out all of the other artists who don’t have their record label relying on them to keep their company going.

Jerry Seinfeld once said: “Playing dress-up and pretend is not genius, ladies and gentlemen.”