Fixing the Awards Show Doldrums
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I checked in on Twitter last night to find Game of Thrones had won a good chunk of the 2019 Emmy Awards. This was news to me, because I didn’t even realize The Emmys were on until I saw the announcement.
I quit watching entertainment award shows years ago, and not for any noble or political reason. When you take away the fact the people getting the awards are “celebrities,” and that some network or another feels obligated to take up three hours of their airtime showing them off, it doesn’t change the fact we are watching an awards assembly.
Awards presentations are Booo-RING!
I don’t even like going to awards banquets and events I’m invited to. These include those school assembly awards where my own kids get certificates. I always take a book or crossword puzzle, because there’s only about five seconds I care about. I clap, snap a photo, and tune out the rest of those other peoples' kids.
Let’s face it, it's just easier to skip these things. If we want to know who wins, we look at social media or the newspaper the next day, and read the list of winners.
I tried watching the Oscars again when my daughters were younger, because I thought they would enjoy the pretty, and ridiculous, outfits and musical numbers. After the snacks were eaten, they were pretty much done. I was too.
Add political lecturing to the mix, and the snooze factor goes up even more. They sound like that self-important friend who prattles on ad nauseam about a political issue of which they know nothing, and you find yourself wanting to hang out with them less and less. You can put them in a tux or expensive dress, and give them a little gold statue, and they still make you want to jump off a cliff…or accidentally nudge them off it.
I do have a solution to this awards show ennui: make it a legitimate, full on, live competition.
I know sports events get over commercialized as well, and the privileged hyper political players have turned off a ton of fans. However, people still watch these events because they are actually watching a game. Regardless of loyalties or who is in the limelight, when all is said and done, Team One and Team Two still have to go to battle and show us in real time who is going to be victorious that day.
With entertainment awards shows, the actual "entertainment" part is long over. The movies and shows have been watched. We’ve all heard the songs. We’ve seen the colorful costumes. All that is left is a bunch of people talking about themselves behind a podium, and unlike an actual political debate, their “election” is already over and decided by a committee of “experts in the field.”
If these shows want people watching again, cut the chit-chat and make them earn the awards for which they are nominated. Make them improvise a scene on the spot, in a full-on acting smack down.
Or, if we really want to see something, let’s see how brave these folks who play superheroes are in real life. Place the trophy at the end of an obstacle course that includes things like giant pits of gators Indiana Jones-style booby traps. Or, we could have them battle some trained Navy SEALs or firefighters in a cage match. First one to reach the trophy, or the last celebrity standing, wins. Yes, they can still wear their fancy outfits. That just adds to the intensity.
Musicians should have to pick a song out of a hat, and perform it in front of Simon Cowell or someone else who seems to hate music. Of course there’s also costume, writing, sound, or cinematography awards. I don’t know for sure what to do yet, but we’ll come up with some impromptu kind of project for the rest of these guys. I’m still working the bugs out on it. Maybe check the current high school U.I.L. rules.
Sounds extreme, I know, yet as it stands, when you strip away the pretty people factor, these awards are no different than watching the Tri-State Pharmacist of the Year (who, I am in no way belittling. I’m sure they deserved it).
I mean, come on! These people are calling themselves entertainers, aren't they? Entertain us. They will be like modern day, and much better paid, gladiators, without the maiming or death. If they’re careful, that is.
Of course, there’s also another way to go about this. Long before David Letterman was one of the first hosts to be “shamed” out of ever hosting The Academy Awards again, I read an article that asked several entertainers how to make the Oscars shorter.
Letterman said just line the trophies up on a table and have someone call out names. When you hear your name, come and get your award. It would be over in minutes.
Honestly, that works well too. Nobody’s watching anyways.
Photo illustration: Lisa Tate