Money makes the awards go 'round ─ and preempts 'Sinbad'

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The other night I went to turn on my favorite TV show, "Sinbad," and was disgruntled to find that once again my friend (and his crazy brightly colored wardrobe) had been preempted in the name of another award ceremony.

Nothing irks me more than missing "Sinbad," the prime-time Barney, so I took a moment to reflect on televised award ceremonies.

They suck.

I can understand why these award shows exist. That's easy. Money. Who in corporate America would turn down such an excellent opportunity to make loads of cash? It's common knowledge that the winners of the Grammys or Oscars receive revived attention for their work, be it records or movies. It's no coincidence that Bruce Springsteen released a new album (albeit a "Greatest Hits") just days before his Grammy victories. If there's one thing corporate America knows, it's that there are a lot of people out there who will buy something just because they are told it is good.

And it's no mystery to me as to why the acts that get awarded as being "the Best" inevitably suck. Those who make money, those who have had commercial success, are the ones who the industry recognizes for making "great" achievements. That's fine. I mean, if you're going to foot the bill for one of these star-studded extravaganzas, you might as well ensure that a lot of people are going to pay attention. So make them feel like they have taste. Award who they like.

This explains the undeserving artists who, year after year, take home those hunks of bronze. Bruce Springsteen is a case in point. That man is more than a decade past his prime, yet his fairly tuneless fluff song "The Streets of Philadelphia" has made him enough money to make up for the three or four commercial disappointments he's had since the Born in the U.S.A. days. So give him an award. Sheryl Crow has nothing new or relevant to offer the music world. But she's laced her retread of the Rickie Lee Jones/Laura Nyro style of female songwriting to an attractive figure and catchy-if-mindless hooks for a money making album. So give her an award.

I could go on berating the undeserving artists who receive these hollow accreditations of their work, but it's pointless. Besides, I'm sure someone will tackle this situation when "Forrest Gump" ─ a $300 million shlock-a-thon ─wins this year's Academy Award. What I don't understand is why people give these shows such great attention.

Are people so pathetic that they glue themselves to the screen because they need to see Tom Hanks or Sting that badly? Are their lives so mundane that they need a vision of Janet Jackson, with her plastic appearance and bad clothing, to help them escape? Or do they sincerely think that Henry Rollins winning a Grammy for "Best Spoken Word" isn't a joke? These people, and there must be a lot of them to make devoting three hours of prime time advertising space feasible, are the reason why I missed "Sinbad" last week.

"Take it ... or Leave it" is an arts column that appears every Thursday.

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