The agony of industry nights

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
September 20, 2011 /

Click here to view original /

Morning-after commentary on awards ceremonies always appears ejected from the same mould.

Awkward and anachronistic, phoned-in, forced, drawn-out, embarrassing, unfunny.

Reviews on Sunday night’s primetime Emmys surprised few. It fell flat, apparently. Prompted virtual vomiting from the Twitterverse.

Really? Was it all that bad?

Probably not. At least, no worse than it is every year.

Despite the millions of dollars devoted every year the reviews of such ceremonies are exactly the same: the events are widely considered fizzers. While vitriol is quickly directed at the host or the “gags” or the apparently undeserving/predictable/controversial winners, rarely does anybody actually point to the real reason behind the glitzy flops: that these events shouldn’t be telecast in the first place.

Personally, I subscribe to the camp that considers TV as important as any other art form. I watch it, I write about it and I encourage rewarding the good stuff with mantelpiece trinkets. Go ahead, my friends, have a party, serve a little grog and issue a press release in the morning telling us who won what.

And leave it at that.

But this isn’t how things operate. When someone realised that a dime could be made by inflicting industry “night of nights” on the public and that dime was salivated for. And here’s where the problem begins.

Forget nitpicking on content, poorly-choreographed dance numbers and maudlin montages. The exact same problems plague all awards ceremonies: if they get broadcast they get blasted. And they get blasted because workplaces aren’t interesting. Not even mildly. Not even when that workplace is Hollywood.

Probably the best thing about my own workplace is that we’ve never had any ropes-course/fall-back-and-let-me-catch-you staff retreats. We do have staff meetings though, and poorly-catered planning days, and maybe even somewhere awards are randomly given out.

But in over a decade with the same employer, only one staff gathering has been remotely memorable. Picture it: an uninteresting campus meeting. One colleague alleges that another has a “cant” from which all of their grievances stem. A few people hear another vowel pronounced. Cue mediation.

But even that joyously disruptive occasion wasn’t worth telecasting. Why? Because nobody really cares about other peoples workplaces.

A distant relative once pulled from her handbag a wad of photos. Pre-empting a slideshow, my grandmother – in the manner only a mildly crazy 80-year-old could get away with – responded, “I’m really not interested” and walked away. And it’s exactly the same for other people’s workplaces. Unless there’s serial killer investigations transpiring, or Big George playing on the credits, nobody can conjure interest in other people’s workplaces.

Perhaps, during a gilded, pre-Perez Hilton, pre-Oprah, pre stars without make-up age, there was a time and place for telecast ceremonies. In a world without Twitter and Facebook and relentless celebrity endorsements maybe, just maybe, awards ceremonies fulfilled a niche.

Today however, we have reached the celebrity sighting saturation point.

Awards ceremonies will perpetually be reviewed badly because they are unavoidably boring. Whether it’s the lotto-draw-esque Brownlows, or the fashion parade/cosmetic surgery showcases exported from the US, the events are exactly the same: pertinent to participants, agonisingly arduous for audiences.

Song-and-dance numbers, releasing celebrities from institutions to attend, and the provision of copious quantities of alcohol might birth some amusing anecdotes, but the same fodder is available daily on gossip websites and reality TV and is hardly enough to sustain a multi-hour awards telecast.

© Lauren Rosewarne