Tuesday, 2 February 2010

'And The Pile of Crap Goes To...'

Let’s talk about awards shows shall we?

For a six week period between the Golden Globes and the Oscars the United States is infested with them. The Globes, The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, The Grammys, and the Oscars are all one after the other in a parade of utter pomposity. Beginning with an excuse for C grade television reporters to analyse so called red carpet ‘fashion’ in a cavalcade of cross promotion. A typical conversation by viewers watching yesterday’s Grammy Red Carpet arrivals may have followed this pattern:

‘Oh look there’s Chris O’Donnell!’

‘Who?’

‘Remember the guy who played Robin to George Clooney’s Batman, and was Al Pacino’s whipping boy in Scent of A Woman’ (Whoo-HA!)

‘What’s he doing here at the Grammys? He’s not singing a duet with John Mayer is he?’

‘No, the same network that are televising the Grammys is also home to the bastion of TV Dramas known as NCIS LA of which he is the star.’

Once the viewer is taken inside the actual awards ceremony it doesn’t get much better. Two scenarios play out when it comes to hosting. First, they take the most middlebrow 'comedian' who is unfunny to begin with (such as Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal or if you are unfortunate enough to have heard of him, Rove McManus in Australia). They are then saddled with material that befits their status complete with jokes about celebrity culture and/or the awards themselves. Oh, and the less said about Hugh Jackman the better. Alternatively, the award shows take funny people like Steve Martin, Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert and neuter the writing beyond belief so they actually become unfunny and revert to the jokes mentioned above.

Then there are the speeches. If you’re at the Grammys you automatically thank god. The Oscars, you have to thank the Weinsteins, If you’re at Australia’s Logies (our Emmys) you’re already drunk by the time you hit the stage and the viewing public is running a Melbourne Cup style sweep as to which teen starlet will be the first to have vomit on her cocktail dress. The Emmys don’t count because they give Charlie Sheen awards for ‘acting’.

These awards show can be saved by three things.

1. Tina Fey.

2. A Beyonce musical performance of highly dramatic proportions.

3. Buffoonery.

It is this last part I want to focus on in particular. Throughout the past decade an awards show isn’t an awards show without controversy. Starting with Britney Spears giving teenage boys erections by kissing the world's most unattractive clown (otherwise known as Madonna), successive award shows have endeavored to capture a ‘moment’ (scripted or otherwise) for people to talk about the next day. Because there’s only so many times you can see Stevie Wonder perform without it seeming redundant.

The pinnacle of these moments came last year when rapper Kanye West stormed the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards while Taylor Swift was accepting an award, claiming it should have gone to Beyonce instead. (Do we really need awards for music videos these days anyway, or is it just another excuse to plug the latest Twilight/Harry Potter movie?)

My favourite cultural blog Intensities in Ten Suburbs describes the utter hilarity of Kanye’s ambush.

Just want to point out a couple of things about (the situation) that I feel are still a little underrated.

1. Kanye appearing out of nowhere. That was the thing that really made this so crazy–it wasn’t like we saw him brewing in the audience, or climbing on the stage, or even stealing the microphone from Swift–one second he wasn’t there, and the next second, he was. It was so sudden that at first it seemed like maybe he had been there all along and you just hadn’t realized, and that this all was some joke that you just didn’t get yet. Not until the boos started raining down did the gravity of the situation become clear.

2. Beyonce in the audience, mouthing “Oh My God!” in response –horrified, no doubt, but also a little bit flattered and a good deal amused.

3. Kanye’s sudden shift in tone and volume before the “But Beyonce had one of the BEST MUSIC VIDEOS OF ALL TIME!!” line. He announces with all the drama as if he just revealed some gigantic plot twist. Maybe he thought he had.
The little “shrug” motion that Kanye does after his diatribe is over. Look, I said what I said. It was true, and you know it’s true. What do you want from me?

The question that all this poses is that why am I drawn to these most pathetic excuses for entertainment? Nobody I like ever wins. Those who do are boring and predictable. In the unlikely event that somebody I care about actually does win nine times out ten their shtick is tired. Taylor Swift’s win for Record of Year at yesterday’s Grammys was well deserved, even eliciting a fist pump from yours truly, but by the time Taylor won a fourth award one would think the element of surprise would have worn off.

I don’t understand why I bother with watching these awards shows. It got to the point with last year’s ARIAS (Australia’s Grammys) that I condensed a two and a half hour show into just four and half minutes only to see performances from Lisa Mitchell and Sarah Blasko. I will never be one to check out awards shows in my mid fifties to see ‘what the kids are into these days’ because my tastes will always be superior. Will I still watch them though? Probably. If only so we can get an updated version of this cringe worthy clip from the 1987 Logies.

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