It's awards time. It's always awards time nowadays. At any given moment, somewhere in the world, someone is standing on a stage, delivering tearful thanks to family, God and rehab while clutching something tacky, possibly the ceremony's host. The recipient of the award may not even be a person: recently there's been talk of an Oscar for animals, and I was surprised to learn that the horse in War Horse was played by a real horse, and not Andy Serkis.
But there are now so many awards in the world of arts and entertainment that it's like Sports Day at a progressive kindergarten, where no child goes home empty-handed even if they fell over before their race began. This largesse is reflected in film posters, each embellished with rows of small, laurel-leaf medallions, representing achievements at various festivals. They look impressive from a distance, like the decorations on the chest of a Ruritanian Field Marshall, but it's best not to inspect these things too closely. While it's good to know which film has won The Golden Sausage of Zagreb for Best Hairstyles in a Musical Documentary, many of the medals are merely 'nominations', perhaps to a shortlist selected from an equal number of eligible films. Others turn out to be 'jury' prizes, possibly awarded by the same jury that acquitted O.J. Simpson.
Awards make us feel good, and that includes everyone. The judges are able to feel wiser than the people they're judging, even when they're not, and the winners feel so good about winning they wouldn't care if their award was bestowed by a panel of lampshades. In fact, the organisers of prestigious literary awards always include a couple of mediocrities on the panel so that the losers can have the satisfaction of complaining that those idiots couldn't be expected to recognize the merit of their masterpiece anyway. Meanwhile, the sponsors get to demonstrate how much they appreciate the arts by donating a millionth of their annual profits to pay for the prize, the media get a few good stories, especially if the judges can be persuaded to argue and the guests can be encouraged to get drunk and have a fight, and a lucky catering company makes a fortune.
But now it's time to turn back the tide. This is the age of austerity and the glamorous world of arts and entertainment should set an example by limiting the number of awards in circulation. For example, if a film director wins an Oscar but their next film is an atrocious turkey, the award should be taken away and given to someone else. The whole process can be conducted in the spirit of fellowship and humility for which Hollywood is so notable. Here's how it could go:
"And here to present Kathryn Bigelow with the Best Director award for The Hurt Locker is previous winner Peter Jackson, who forfeits the award because The Lovely Bones was such a hideous insult to the human spirit."
Of course, this decision could be controversial because some people think Up In The Air was a better film than The Hurt Locker. Opinions could get heated and it might have to go to a leg wrestling match between Bigelow and Jason Reitman. Which would make a pretty good film itself.
This proposal has two outstanding attractions. Firstly, it's allows the film industry to demonstrate a serious commitment to the virtues of recycling. Secondly, it's a great way to start arguments while pretending to discuss culture. Naturally, we have those arguments already, but this gives them a formal context and gratifies the fundamental human need to bestow significance and meaning on your worthless subjective opinions by making them into lists. Yes, lists! Start now. Make a list of every Oscar winner from the last ten years, and figure out who should be deprived of their award and why, and who should receive it instead. The world is waiting.
Welcome to the Noscars. Please use your vote responsibly.
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