Awards are not the be all and end all

2010-03-13 12:07

SOME weeks ago, Hype Magazine held its second yearly Hype Awards meant to recognise the ­efforts of local hip-hop artists. As is the case with most events nowadays, I followed the proceedings via Twitter, although there seemed to be a a go-slow from the usual Twitterers.

Overall, the comments that were shared about the awards were less than savoury, with a lot of negativity expressed about both the organisation and the winners. I’m not really relevant to these things any more and have duly stepped aside to ­allow those younger than me to enjoy their moment.

Those supposedly in the know expressed serious misgivings about the winners, complaining that they were not known (to them, I suppose). The fact that the public voted for these artists should suggest that they are known and are relevant.

Anyway, so a couple of weeks after that, Sama nominees were announced. Within minutes of the announcement, names of artists who “should” rather have been nominated were being bandied about.

This is not a phenomenon that plagues only South Africa. Next month, not long before the Samas, the Ghana Music Awards will take place in Accra. The minute the nominees were listed, there were murmurings about bias and deception. I happened to be in Accra last year when the awards took place and the same thing happened.

At the Video Music Awards late last year, Kanye West crashed the stage as country singer Taylor Swift was about to accept her award for Video of the Year and ranted on about how Beyonce had “one of the best videos of all time”. And earlier this year there were some who felt aggrieved when Taylor Swift won the Grammy for Album of the Year instead of Beyonce.

For as long as I can remember we have had awards and pageants and competitions and, for as long as those have been happening, there has been controversy. Former US President, Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” This is apt when you replace the word “fool” with “please”.

There is always someone who was “robbed”, someone who didn’t “deserve” to win, and someone who deserved it much more.

Should we just scrap these ceremonies and awards and ­focus on ­ensuring that artists have spaces to perform in and share their music with the world?

I know of artists who have never won awards and yet I see them as some of the best artists this country has to offer. We all know of actors who have never won an ­Oscar, yet they are considered at the pinnacle of their craft. When Denzel Washington finally won Best Male Actor for his performance in Training Day, it felt like it was delayed acknowledgement of his work in films such as Malcolm X and The Hurricane.

I think we could comfortably live without these various awards. Rather let’s measure the success on factors such as sales and bookings.

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