Why I'm No Longer Interested In Awards Season
by Kristin Battestella
I write a film blog.
However, for the past several years – perhaps longer if I'm honest with myself – I have had no interest in covering or following awards season. I don't watch red carpets or ceremonies nor wait for the fashionista and party reports. Afterwards, I barely notice the winners lists anymore. Often I don't notice if a film has won awards until after I come to review it, which is often months, even years after its initial success. Gasp!
I know what you're thinking: “You can't be a real movie blog if you don't live tweet every single award show! How dare you be late on a current film. Timely! Timely! Timely!”
Read on as I address the reasons behind my seemingly shameful award season fatigue, which I suspect audiences and fellow bloggers may have felt themselves but won't admit.
There are so Many Awards
The gala dinners, all the major awards shows, every single film critics association, all the best of lists, every film websites' polls voted on by you the viewer, all the twitter handles hashtagging their favorites....I am one film fan with a real life in addition to blogging and writing work. There's no way to keep up with each and every instance of all the acclaim. Stick to the biggies or go with your local critics? Favor a go to film website or live tweet yourself? Certainly, a real movie media professional should maximize that timely hit count with as many 300 word posts as possible and virtually grin over every single award moment with all the likes, follows, tweets, and shares. I no longer have neither the time nor the inclination to stay informed, and you have to choose carefully on which clout does earn your focus because...
Omnipresence equals Overrated
Maybe there aren't outrageous awards campaigns as there have been in the past, however that's because the contender uses social media instead. Every film creates a case for itself as the latest instant darling. In addition to advertising, merchandise, and tie ins, this puts all the awards favorites more so in your face than say, when you only saw the TV Spots or full page consideration ads in the trade papers. If I have no desire to see a movie, should I be pressured into seeing it because all the trending twitter topics put that picture in my inescapable view? Even if I want to see a piece, all the at your fingertips promotion creates an award bait fatigue long before a piece hits mainstream audiences. By time the major awards roll around, the hype is overrated and passe. I'm more likely to dismiss a piece that was overly popular and once talked about but now quickly forgotten.
But Contenders are few and far Between
Then again, there are often many critically acclaimed pieces that never reach wide release before awards season. Quiet, elusive films are consistently overrun by the blockbusters at the box office and thus become invisible releases no matter how decent they may be. Granted, it is easier to enjoy the awards if you have a horse in the race – one of these indie darlings to seek out because of the cast and director. However, my awards enthusiasm wane further reveals my increasing lack of viewing recent pictures. Though they have their purpose, I'm not crazy about all the popcorn flicks, and when I do watch something timely, it's often a clunker and I shouldn't have wasted my time. It's frustrating to see a faulty mainstream piece earn popular acclaim while an unusual release I did enjoy goes unnoticed. In spite of personal movie preference, when the nominations are so distorted in representing an askew box office increasingly sectioning off its pie between tent pole films and midsize or obscure offerings, its just downright dizzying to find good movies to watch.
Critics Lists are Just as Inaccurate
Every organization, city, state, region, website, YouTuber, and/or #filmtwitter has a yearly favorites list, poll, vote, or awards that likewise run the gamut between specialization or favoritism, and the great disparity between what the critics choose and what people like compromises the criticism. Why are old white men critics reviewing teen comedies or women's pictures? How can they accurately reflect the opinions of audiences so drastically different from who they are? Why are there so many old white male critics who's opinions are raised above all other voices when their views seem so grossly out of touch with cinema viewing habits? Diversity in film criticism has improved somewhat, however women and minorities still have too small a voice, and there needs to be a much more realistic range between the right critics watching the right films for the right audience. Rather than adoring their faves or marring their dislikes with nasty opinions, the old white guys should say if a film is not meant for them and who the audience should be, because believe it or not a lot of decent films are made for diverse viewers, and such pictures shouldn't have to fall on unwarranted opinions.
Watching Awards are a Chore
Trying to find an obscure channel for a secondary award show trying to prove how different and special it is, struggling with livestreams on a facebook page with floating likes hearts and stupid comments, or refreshing twitter every minute for live updates that aren't actually coming in real time each make it tough to enjoy the winners. On television there are commercials, stunts, comedy, songs, drinking, and flubs – and it is all so dang unnecessary. Ratings desperation and a false need to appeal to the latest cause, honor, or humor are completely obvious. Has no one every considered that people don't want to waste three hours on fluff and just want to hear the winners? If stars skip out to the parties and we at home read the results online, for whom then are these hackneyed ceremonies? Nobody knows how to present awards in a timely manner that both maximizes live viewing and instant answers. Every stage stunt, commercial, or crashing website only gives one another reason to tune out. Why should I bother to watch film ceremonies that leave the most critical technical awards to happen during television breaks?
Celebrations are in Bad Taste
In addition to all the in your face gimmicks, there are custom one time gala wears, luxury jewelry, outrageous gift baskets, gourmet foods, and deluxe liquor all priced in the thousands if I'm polite but really in the millions if I'm honest. Rather than being glamour we love and all aspire to emulate, the glitter and gold are just tacky in these austere times. Movie star luster is failing at the box office because their sassy twitter pages and strategically posed instagrams are ridiculously out of touch with the everyday audience. Mom, dad, and three kids with snacks and 3D pricing is not a weekly outing to the movies many families can afford. We are too busy worrying about paycheck to paycheck bills, healthcare, politics, violence, education, and so much more. Ultimately it's tough to applaud or even take some actors seriously as they project emotional truths however imaginary onscreen because they are all so let them eat cake living in a completely different world.
Hello Category Fraud
Let's not forget also how many trophies are awarded on you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours convenience rather than merit. Categories are toyed with to suit the seasonal favorites as lead actresses steal supporting categories and dramas compete in the musical or comedy groupings. Anonymous ballots from the governing bodies admit they don't see all the nominees, don't know who many of them are, and confuse the technical categories – letting ignorance and favoritism declare a default winner. This combines the hype for one, lack of attention for another, dismissing honors within the ceremonies, and carelessness of the numerous awards to be swayed, fudged, or gifted. With the right campaign or backer, awards are easy to come by at best and at worst flat out bought. Why should I take any of the accolades where they didn't really belong as legitimate when the associations won't uphold the merits themselves?
Too many Creeps have Praised Films
In the end, it's damn daunting to want to see a movie only to find it is surrounded by a terrible scandal. It's gross as a viewer tiptoeing around taboos, touchy as a film blog praising art, and downright uncomfortable for one and all. Who's problematic? Are there degrees of lesser evils where we defend those who aren't that bad in comparison to the criminally egregious? It's awkward at best to applaud the alleged or ambiguous and simply wrong to happily hand them gold as if there's been no trouble at all. You know who I mean without mentioning their names; we wonder if everyone is guilty by association or suspect films we enjoy even if they seem stain free. I want stars who received awards for working with nasty people to auction their trophies in support of charity. I want women to not attend ceremonies so all can see just how many seats are empty without them. I want minorities to storm the red carpets and show Hollywood just how many non-white employees there can be. I'm tired of lip service that honors victims on stage and then turns around to reward a statue to a creeper. Rather than making impressive strides to balance the abuses in their industry, each awards body lowers the bar by acting like no real world or behind the scenes problems exist. When Hollywood can't or won't accurately illume all its highs and lows, really what is there to cheer?