The Controversy Behind Award Shows: Who Really Deserves To Win?

Kerrera Jackson, Staff Writer

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Late January and early February is a time most recognized for its cold weather, (hopeful) snow days, and the start of a new semester. This time is also widely known for being awards season. Awards shows like the Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars are broadcasted worldwide to celebrate the “best” films, shows, or music that the world produced in the past year. However, especially in more recent years, these high-class awards shows have become increasingly criticized and filled with controversy about the claim that they showcase the “best” of that specific category of art. 

One of the main critiques of awards shows like The Oscars and The Golden Globes is its voting body. The Academy, who votes for the Oscars nominees and winners, is heavily criticized for their lack of diversity and inclusion. 

“It seems to me like the partitioning of these awards is very unfair, since the main people getting and voting for these awards are old white men, when the group of people who I believe deserve these awards is much more diverse than people think,” says Leah Tift, ‘22.

In the Academy’s 92 years, only five women have ever been nominated for “Best Director”, and only one has ever won. Much of this has to do with the Academy itself being composed of mostly men with more traditional values.

It is certainly worth pointing out that men can vote for female-directed films, but, historically, they have not. The only woman to win “Best Director” is Kathryn Bigelow, who won for The Hurt Locker, a war movie that stars primarily men. This style of film seems to be held in the highest regard among The Academy, especially when it focuses specifically on the male psyche and their point of view. In addition, it was reported that men in the Academy simply were not seeing Little Women, a movie which is focused on the female point of view and their struggles in everyday life in the 1860s, ideas that are still very much applicable today. 

Along with the lack of women being celebrated in male-dominated categories, The Academy, and many other voting bodies for awards, have been condemned for their lack of racial equality or diversity. Over the years, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been trending when the nominees are announced. 

This year, the film Parasite is nominated for many categories, such as “Best Director” and “Best Picture,” yet none of the actors were recognized or nominated for the Oscars, Golden Globes, or BAFTAS. Parasite is a South-Korean film, featuring an all Asian cast and crew, which has gained high critical acclaim and has already won many awards.

However, across most awards shows, no cast members have been nominated for anything. It very rarely, if ever, happens that a movie is up for “Best Picture”, “Best Director”, and “Best Original Screenplay”, like Parasite is, with no acting nominations. Sadly, the Oscars themselves don’t have a particularly good track record of nominating non-white actors, let alone giving an acting award to actors in foreign-language films.

Another critique of awards shows are their self-congratulatory and snooty nature, while also at many times not reflecting the true “best” of their categories. 

“It feels like it has become more what is popular than what is actually good and what seems to have taken time, care, and hard work to produce,” says Maya Baer, ‘22. 

This is especially true with shows like the Grammys, that have featured mainly the most popular artists and none of the smaller, more talented ones, just because they are less well-known. 

Each year, artists often win more than one Grammy, leaving other artists with no awards. If there were more variety in the artists up for awards, there would be different people winning each award. 

For example, Billie Eilish won five Grammys, which left a lot of artists without an award. Eilish was even seen mouthing “don’t be me” before winning. Even the artists realize that awards are given to the most popular artists, rather than the most qualified. Lots of artists are deserving of these awards, regardless of their popularity. While the decision should be based on who deserves the award the most, it is often based on the popularity of the artist. “It seems like if a movie made a lot of money and was generally well-liked by the public, it will win a lot of awards, when it’s not even a good or unique movie by any technical standards,” said Tift, showcasing how this characteristic is true across the board in all award shows. 

As long as awards shows have been around, they have always been criticized for being biased towards a certain type of film or directorial style, without ever analysing other films that could have just as well been nominated and are on par with the others.

“I think that they are on some level a bit unfair. It’s all down to the opinion of the Academy and what they believe is award-winning. That’s who’s gonna win the award no matter what the ‘best’ actually is,” said Lizzy Del Monte, ‘22.

  This helps create the perception that awards shows are filled with rich, upper-class people who are giving each other pointless awards just for the sake of it. The awards hold no real weight, yet the general public allow themselves to believe they hold such power. It truly is a group of people without any real power voting on films or music that most of us haven’t even seen or listened to. So why should it matter so much what they think?