• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Should award shows still be relevant?

ByKyri Antholis

Feb 21, 2023
Harry Styles stood in front of a microphone on stage at Wembley. We is wearing a sequin vest top.

With every award season comes a frenzy of media commentary pointing out awkward moments, fashion faux pas, celebrities caught off guard, and primarily detailing the ways in which the organizations have failed to represent and acknowledge deserving artists. 

The 65th Grammys, which happened last Sunday, were no exception. People showed out on the red carpet, performances went viral, but waves of criticism also came in. Most notably, many fans and other artists didn’t agree with Harry Style’s win of the “Album of the Year” award for his album ‘Harry’s House’. Many argued Beyoncé was the deserving recipient, some even shouting it from the audience during his speech, and others critiqued Styles for saying in his speech “This doesn’t happen often to people like me,” when historically the award has gone to a lot of white male artists. 

Undoubtedly, representation in media, and recognition of minority talent, needs to be increased across the board, especially in award shows. But that doesn’t mean that award shows are unnecessary or simply serve the purpose to reward artists who already have an upper hand in the industry – and this Grammys was a sign of that. 

Black women excelled in many ways: Viola Davis won an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) and Beyoncé became the most awarded artist ever in the history of the Grammys. Kim Petras also became the first openly transgender woman to win best pop duo performance award. 

However, award shows can be significant beyond just the awards. While these shows have often faced criticism of being akin to Hollywood’s popularity contest, a new way to view these events is as a celebration of the year’s most significant cultural moments. While surely artists can be snubbed in nominations, the lists can be seen more as a summary of what was artistically, historically, and socially relevant in the past year, and that has certainly progressed over the past few decades (albeit with more work to do). 

Since the awards are given based on voting within the organization, the winner can be seen more as based on a matter of opinion than of a declaration of who is the most deserving or the most accomplished artist.

Additionally, while fewer and fewer people have begun to tune into the Grammys and other award shows, they still have a massive reach in order for cultures, performances, and individuals to be given the spotlight and celebrated. This years Grammy’s celebrated Latino, hip-hop, and queer culture in performances by artists such as Bad Bunny, Sam Smith and Kim Petras, and an array of hip-hop artists. 

While there may have been snubs among the nominees and winners and still a lack in representation, to call this award show a fail is not giving it enough credit. Because if we were to accept that the entire function of art is appeal to different people, meaning different people will have objectively different opinions on what, say, the best album of the year is, and instead look at awards shows more as a celebration and diagnosis of what was culturally relevant in the past year, I think we’ll find that we can all enjoy them a little more for what they are: a celebration of the arts, which will continue to have a lot of work to do in becoming more inclusive.

Harry Styles Wembley June 2022” by Lily Redman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.