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Awards are like Piles…

March 14, 2012

Sooner or later, every a*hole gets one, runs the cry from the losers.

Following on from last week’s entry about the validity or otherwise of those who review productions, I thought I’d take a look at the result of those reviews – often… an award.

Things have come some way since the “Olivier” and “London Evening Standard” awards were the only ones in town. The “Whatsonstage” Awards now vie with these old timers for prestige, and it seems like every other website stages its own now too.

Theatremonkey.com in fact went the other way. For many years it ran the “GoodMonkey” Awards, in partnership with its dear, departed friends at Goodshow.com. These set out to cover the things that we at both sites enjoyed or disliked most – reaching the parts other awards were too embarrassed to talk about. “Biggest ticket price rip-off” (earning the awards a mention in “The Times” newspaper for that one), “cleanest toilets,” “tastiest ice-cream,” “ugliest chorus member” were among them. I kept them going for a little while after Goodshow ended, but gave up as I felt the targets were becoming too stereotypical and it just got dull thinking of titles for each prize – there are only so many “Mrs Joyful Cups For Raffia” one can award, I felt.

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about today. What I wanted to think about was, like the reviewers last week, just how credible are all these awards? Both the Olivier and Evening Standard ones are voted for by panels. The Oliviers have a couple of places for volunteers from outside the theatre world, the Standard keep it to their own appointed people. The results are rather like professional theatre reviews – they come from those who’ve seen everything and been able to make a comparison through a year.

An interesting side note is that a few times bookmakers have asked me for my opinions on who will win. I’ve never seen everything the panels have seen, and my predictions were therefore based only on what I thought. And I told them that. Unsurprisingly, the winners were way off my list, and the bookies stopped seeking my opinion. I’d like to think that it proves the awards have some credibility as they are clearly based on far more than just public opinion and reportage.

Moving on to awards like the “Whatsonstage” ones. These are purely voted for by the public – and I indeed normally vote in a few categories too. The results are, though, far more predicable for me. That’s simply down to knowing that some shows / actors have gangs of devoted fans who will vote ‘en-bloc and and often,’ to support their favourites.

The good news is that it often means unsung heros – less well known names and people who take over a role rather than create it – get a chance of recognition. Whether they deserve it or not in the judgement of professional awards panels is a debatable point, but the pleasure is in seeing a reward given for the entertainment that has been provided to ordinary people, and for that reason I think there’s a place for the ‘public’ vote too.

In fact, in some ways I trust public votes more. When it comes to film, I know much less than theatre. All I do know is that I tend to avoid any movie that has won an Academy Award ® just because I know it’ll be boring as hell…

…Maybe that’s the way awards should go – we already have the “Razzies” for worst film, how about the “Snoozies” to save us all time… just count me out on the selection panel (and award for blog writing), thank you.

2 Comments
  1. Clive permalink
    March 16, 2012 5:09 pm

    I completely agree with you. Clearly you do know much less about film!

    There are undoubtedly some very strange decisions when it comes to the Academy Awards and over the years there have been some absolute travesties. However some very good films do in fact also win.

    To take just one example, the current ‘best picture’ winner is ‘The Artist’. Go and see that and then tell me whether it is “boring as hell”!

    • Steve Rich permalink
      March 16, 2012 5:57 pm

      Yes, I don’t pretend to know anything about film – partly because there are no cinemas left where I live and it’s cheaper for me to go to the theatre!

      If “The Artist” is on one Christmas, though, I will indeed give it a look. Must admit what I’ve seen of it didn’t tempt me, though.

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