Gongol.com Archives: March 2024

Brian Gongol

March 10, 2024

Broadcasting Awards night in America

The most predictable aspect about coverage of the Academy Awards is the commentary about which films and performers were snubbed for well-deserved Oscars. Sometimes the criticisms are nothing more than matters of taste. Sometimes they are justifiable critiques of double standards. ■ Almost every industry has institutions that confer awards. And those awards matter in proportion to the amount they are taken seriously by the industry at large, and by the amount they matter to the recipients. Sally Field's unconventional Oscar acceptance speech in 1985 remains one of the finest examples of the latter. ■ It ought to be a lesson to such a public-facing industry as Hollywood that it still so often appears to miss the mark on the former count -- or, perhaps more precisely, that its own internal sense of worthiness still so frequently falls short of standards that seem patently obvious to so many members of the public. ■ Regardless of the merit of the final award-winners, the pipeline to some of the highest-profile awards still seems altogether too narrow. That's an upstream problem for the film industry, probably in much greater measure than it is downstream (at awards season). ■ The public has a say in those industry awards, in the same sense that the people have a say under an absolute monarchy: Nobody counts their votes, but at some point or another, they can withdraw their consent and de-legitimize the institution. Nobody forces America to watch the red-carpet coverage. The People's Choice Awards, for instance, could be more prestigious than the Oscars, should it emerge that the newer awards mean more to the recipients -- and the industry -- than the older. ■ If the criticism of the latest awards lands anywhere, it ought to first land with scriptwriters who need to commit energy and creativity to imagining stories that look like America as it is today, rather than its past or an alternate reality. And, of course, the stories have to be put into motion by producers who can appreciate the vision. That's a necessary, though far from sufficient, condition for ensuring that the awards handed out today continue to mean something tomorrow.

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