Wait, Didn't We Agree to Be Done with Award Shows?

Anyone remember when 2019 Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais declared that he "didn't care" who would win that night in his intro speech? Well, it turns out, Gervais's apathy was a sign of what was to come for awards shows. The Globes would hit a record low in ratings—and that was before the damning LA Times report, when we not only learned that the The Hollywood Foreign Press Association accepted bribes, but that the non-profit organization was rife with diversity issues. After the news hit, the celebrity world largely boycotted the awards. Tom Cruise even sent his trophies back. This was all before the pandemic's disastrous effect on the film industry, too. Don't forget the sheer number of streaming services continuing to pump out more content than we could ever humanly watch, leaving us bewildered by half of each year's nominees. Can you remember anything that happened at the Oscars before Will Smith slapped Chris Rock?

So what's behind awards-show malaise? Make all the memes you want, but they're just not fun to watch. Tuesday night's Golden Globes affair was a three-and-a-half hour long slog of lengthy acceptance speeches, awkward jokes, and a troubled organization's insistence to return despite being completely shunned just one year ago. This may not come as a surprise—but no one has ever needed a bunch of archaic organizations telling them what’s good and what isn’t. Maybe we'd have a different story if awards shows were actually evolving—at all. But if the Globes ceremony was any indication, we're not even close to seeing that. Opening the show, host Jerrod Carmichael joked about why he was offered the gig. "I'll tell you why I'm here," he said. "I'm here 'cause I'm Black." He went on to mock the Hollywood Foreign Press and its inclusion of six new Black members, announcing that he "took this job assuming that they haven't changed at all." The $500,000 fee was just too good to pass up, but that doesn't explain why everyone in the audience showed up. Damn, do celebrities really crave holding trophies that much?

Even though many of the night's awards actually went to a diverse group of winners—such as Michelle Yeoh, the cast of Abbott Elementary, Angela Bassett, and the songwriters from RRR—it still seemed like the organization hadn't really learned a thing during its time away. The Best Picture category, including all ten nominations for Drama and Musical/Comedy, bafflingly contained just one film with a diverse cast and crew, in Everything Everywhere All at Once. It doesn’t matter to me if a bunch of Academy members liked Armageddon Time better than Amsterdam, especially when some of the most fun I had this year came from action-comedy films like RRR and Everything Everywhere, indie-horror delights like Barbarian, and countless international films that historically never get a second of recognition stateside.

Let's conduct an experiment. Take a moment with me and picture a perfect version of this year's awards season. Your favorite movie of the year wins. Multiple times. Your favorite actor, finally recognized! Is that something you really need at the end of the day? The Banshees of Inisherin stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleason suggested a potential fix to the awards show format earlier this week—revealing the winners beforehand, so that it's not a competition. "No tension, no anxiety, no one pretending that they don’t want it or they’re shocked and really happy that someone else beat them," Farrell told the LA Times. "You just go and you celebrate the people. It’d be more joyful.”

It's a good idea in theory, but no one is turning on their TV without a little drama. Even if I didn't have to see four nominees lose to watch one person win, the show would still be nearly four hours of watching famous people win awards. Sadly, there's no World Cup-type event for this sort of competition. When you tune in to an awards show, you’re not going to see Lydia Tár take the court and put down a triple-double over Sammy Fabelman. You’re going to see a long, boring, patting-of-their-own-backs affair from the same class of people that audiences loved to see have a bad time on vacation in The White Lotus and shit themselves uncontrollably in Triangle of Sadness.

Award shows are only as powerful as the ratings allow them to be. Sure, Hollywood showed up. People seemed engaged on social media. But Tuesday's Golden Globes broadcast only drew in 5.4 million viewers, according to TV Line. Those are the same early viewing numbers from its last broadcast in 2021—which marked the celebrity banquet's smallest audience in the last three decades. This isn't a good sign for the continuation of the Globes on NBC. Should the network decide to not renew their tenuous partnership, the HFPA may be looking for a new home next year. A million more people tuned in to watch the latest episode of CBS's crime drama, FBI—I'd be willing to bet that most Globes watchers were just waiting for the damn to burst.

If anything, I think it’s only healthy that we finally tried to eliminate at least one night of the year spent groaning at our TVs. A good time at the movies is a good time at the movies—and there’s nothing that can change that.

You Might Also Like