The Entertainment Awards Catch-22

They never had any integrity, but before the Great Stupid, they could at least pretend. That was good enough to serve the real purpose of such awards and their televised ceremonies. Now, since they can’t even pretend, the awards have no purpose, and increasingly, no audiences.

The Grammys were the latest televised awards show debacle. That show’s rating hit an all-time low, following similar results for the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Academy Awards (with this year’s new low on the horizon), and nobody ever watched the Tonys anyway. This result was preordained as soon as the organizations sponsoring and running the various awards competitions, enthusiastically applauded by the woke news media, decided to make honoring minority , especially black, performers a new mission.

By doing so, the organizations were admitting that the awards were never objective assessments of quality in the first place. Of course they weren’t, but the contrary illusion was crucial to the commercial mission of such awards: to promote the product and its creators. Movies that win Oscars used to get a big bump in ticket sales. Songs that win Grammys are downloaded more. The individual artists gain prestige that helps their careers. All of this is dependent on consumers buying the myth that the awards, any of them, are reliable measures of quality, and especially superior quality.

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A “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Anniversary Retrospective: The Cancellation Of Charlie Rich

charlierichjohndenver

I wasn’t paying attention in 1975 when this episode occurred: it was a big year for me. I graduated from law school, took the bar, moved back to Massachusetts and then back to D.C. Most of all, the Red Sox went to the World Series and I had prime seats to see Carlton Fisk hit his immortal homer in the 12th inning of Game 6, waving the ball fair, but barely. The Country Music Awards (CMAs) were nowhere on my radar. They still aren’t: there isn’t a sock drawer in America I wouldn’t rather color-code that watch that show. But on October 13, 1975, 45 years ago to the day, an ethics drama unfolded with many lessons.

Charlie Rich, the soulful country music singer they called the Silver Fox (Even I had heard “Behind Closed Doors”) had been voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier, and thus was chosen to  announce that year’s winner of the CMA’s greatest honor at the televised 1975 show.  He opened the envelope, appeared to read the name on the slip of paper,  and instead of announcing it, Rich reached into his pocket, took out a cigarette lighter and set the slip on fire.  While the paper burned, he finally announced that the winner was “my friend Mr. John Denver” Denver was only available to accept the awards via satellite linkup, so he made his acceptance speech with no knowledge of Rich’s gesture.

The audience was horrified, and many country music fans—and obviously John Denver fans— were furious. Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. His popularity crashed: from that moment until the end of his career in 1992, Rich had only one more #1 hit in those years, though a couple of songs reached #3 on the country charts. By any standard, his career after flaming John Denver was greatly diminished. Denver, universally regarded as a nice guy, was seen as the victim of a jerk. (The “my friend” seemed like a particularly nasty touch.)

What was going on here? The assumption was that Rich was taking a stand for country traditionalists against pop music turf invaders like Denver and Olivia Newton-John, who had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973.  To this day, some even see his uncivil attack on Denver as courageous. The Saving Country Music blog opined in 2013:

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What’s Going On Here? A Hallmark Mystery And A Confederacy of Ethics Dunces

The anti-abortion film “Unplanned” was honored with three nominations for the 28th Annual MovieGuide awards that aired on February 24 on the Hallmark Drama cable channel.  “Unplanned,” written and directed by Chuck Kozelman and Carey Solomon, tells the true story of  Abby Johnson’s transformation  from director of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility to a full-time pro-life advocate.The film’s star Ashley Bratcher was nominated for the Grace Award for Most Inspiring performance; “Unplanned” was up for the Faith & Freedom Award, and had a nomination in the “Best Movies for Mature Audiences” category. Nevertheless, every mention of the movie  was cut from the pre-recorded televised show. The nominees from “Unplanned” were the only nominees eliminated from the broadcast.

Dr. Ted Baehr, the founder and publisher of MovieGuide, which hosted the awards, admitted that it was his organization that edited the movie out of the nominees listing, not Hallmark, which, he said, only broadcast the show. His asinine excuse was that “some” in his organization felt “Unplanned” should not have been nominated for awards. Does that make any sense at all? If the Oscars left an entire film and its nominees out of the awards broadcast, would anyone accept the excuse that it was done because “some people” didn’t agree with the nominations? Continue reading

A “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Case Study: The Angouleme International Comics Festival Thinks Announcing the Wrong Award-Winners Is Funny

In December, comedian Steve Harvey inadvertently announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe Pageant on live, national TV. It was horrible. He then had to correct his mistake, the wrongly crowned Miss Columbia had to be uncrowned, and everyone except the sadists in the audience felt awkward and embarrassed. Harvey sincerely apologized, more than once.

How anyone could be aware of that fiasco, which received world-wide attention, and conclude that it would be hilarious to do the same fake-winner bit intentionally is beyond my small mind to comprehend. Such individuals would have to have their ethics alarms installed backwards, or buy them from the Bizarro World of Superman Comics. Yet the organizers of the Angouleme International Comics Festival this tear decided exactly that: “Let’s announce the wrong winners! It will be great!

The ceremony began with the MC, comedian Richard Gaitet,  announcing that“This will be the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance!” He then presented all nine awards in rapid succession, including the Fauve d’Or, the biggest award of the show, to Arsène Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen. Then two women appeared and announced that the awards just handed out were fake, and they presented the real awards to completely different artists. The “winners” who just accepted their prizes in the exhilaration of pride and recognition, were as stunned as Miss Columbia.

The audience reaction, meanwhile, was exactly as you, I or any sane person would expect. Nobody laughed. Everyone felt that the targets of the practical joke had been abused. “We were all happy, we had tears in our eyes, and then we were humiliated,” said Sam Soubigui of Komikku, one of the publishers whose book won a “Faux Fauve” (fake prize). Another publisher who accepted a phony prize had already relayed the news of the honor to the writer and artist of the book that “won,” and then had to call them back and explain. One editor whose comic won a “Faux Fauve” left the auditorium in tears when she realized it was fake.

The condemnation of the stunt on social media was swift and unanimous. The organizers of the festival thought this was an appropriate response (courtesy of the French to English Google app, further translated by me from the typical gibberish these programs often create): Continue reading

So Caitlyn Jenner BOUGHT Her ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award From Disney: What Does It Mean, And Why Is Anyone Surprised?

Arthur Ashe was too good for you, Cait...

Arthur Ashe was too good for you, Cait…

I should have already given ESPN an Ethics Dunce for designating an “Espy,” an award given by the cable sports channel to justify having an awards show—to Caitlyn Jenner for the courageous sports achievement of being an aging reality show star who once won an Olympics event and decided that he was now a she.  Why I didn’t, I don’t recall. I think my reasoning was that since the awards are just a PR gimmick anyway, it wasn’t worth the post.  I wasn’t paying attention: I did not sufficiently focus on the fact that “Espy”she would receive was named after Arthur Ashe. I did already discuss  the ethical problems with turning Jenner into a trans icon, since her transition seemed to be in part a money-driven career move. Now, following Jenner’s tearful and touching acceptance of “the Arthur Ashe Courage Award” on TV, we learn this:

“Reports have emerged that Jenner’s team approached ESPN with the idea that she win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award just as details were being finalized for her 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney, and ABC aired Wednesday’s awards ceremony. “It was a brilliant move because the executives at ESPN loved the idea, and immediately began making sure it got done,” a source familiar with the negotiations told RadarOnline.The talks hit a stumbling block, and Jenner’s agents were reportedly prepared to pull out of the interview with Sawyer. “It was ironed out, and ABC owns one of the biggest stories of the year.” The build up to Jenner accepting the award will be featured in her upcoming reality show, “I am Cait”, generating a great deal of publicity for both ESPN and the awards.”

Wow! Who could have seen that coming—a reality show star, who has been part of the shameless and venal Kardashian family, cynically manipulating the media and gaining phony recognition on a nationally broadcast awards show…and, in the bargain, debasing the name of a real sports hero, the dignified, sportsmanlike, role model Arthur Ashe, an African American champion in the white man’s game of tennis who helped make Serena Williams’ prominence possible!

Yecchh. In fact, that’s a double yecchh at least.

Yecchh. Yecchh.

What does this mean? To begin with, it means that Jenner bought her award. I don’t want to read any Clintonian deceit about how this isn’t technically true….she bought it. There is no reason to believe ESPN would have given the award to Jenner had her agents not suggested it, and ESPN’s parent received value that translated directly into profits with the exclusive, high-rated ABC interview with Sawyer. Jenner might as well have slipped ABC a couple of million in a big valise  under the table. This was a bribe. This was an award bought and paid for.

What does that mean?
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