I hate awards shows. I mention this today because the Emmys were on last night (Now called the Prime Time Emmys because the stuff that’s on before the evening news apparently wants to feel appreciated too and gets its own version, kind of like the Special Olympics; I believe one of the categories for the daytimers is “Set Design That Most Resembles a Furniture Store Display.”)
Oh, yeah: I hate awards shows. Sure, I’ve watched them before; plenty, in fact. Back in the day I used to sit through hours of televised MTV galas just to catch a performance by a favorite band. It was worth it, too: Mike Patton made me a fan for life in 1990 when Faith No More did the song Epic and he flopped around on stage toward the end like the dying fish in the video for the same song. (Unless you're nostalgic for Faith No More or Arsenio Hall, don't bother with this low-quality video. I include it only to prove I'm not making it up.) While I'm giving awards shows a little credit, the '93 performance of Neil Young with Pearl Jam on Rockin' in the Free World was MTV's high-water mark, particularly Young's guitar solo at the 3:20 mark; it's like your dad is up on stage showing you that he wasn't kidding- he really is way cooler than you ever will be. That was MTV's peak, in my opinion. It may have been mine as well, come to think of it.
But back to why I loathe these self-congratulatory productions: First off they’re, uh, self-congratulatory. The Emmys may actually be the worst because it’s TV throwing a party for itself to tell us how great it is. Watching the Emmys seems like going to the movies to watch the Oscars. The real problem with it, though, is that I don’t watch most of the shows being honored. At least with the Oscars I’ve seen most of the films in question by the time the ceremony rolls around.
Even more damning is the indisputable fact that most, if not all, awards shows are a complete waste of time. It just so happens that No Country for Old Men was the best movie I saw last year, but who the hell is “The Academy” to make this decision for posterity? What if I happened to think Norbit was the best cinema had to offer in 2007? What of it Academy? Sure, I know the opinions of whoever the people are who decide these things are no more or less subjective or definitive than my own, but I’m not renting out a concert hall and pandering to every celebrity in Hollywood just to get mine written into the history books. Because nobody cares.
Finally, the thing that makes me ultimately averse to awards shows is the one thing they all have in common: people we are used to seeing in movies or on TV stuttering and stammering their way uncomfortably through acceptance speeches, just like real people. There are some exceptions of course (Hugh Laurie is as witty and dry as British citizenship demands and Russell Crowe is even more self-confident and arrogant than any character he has ever played), but it turns out that most of those people are just as awkward and unfunny as the rest of us when put on the spot, and I find that extremely unsettling. I can’t stand it. Even if I do watch an awards show, I get up and do laundry or dishes or just pace around in the other room during the acceptance speeches. Or like right now (earlier referred to as “last night;” I was anticipating the publishing of this post in the future by writing in the past tense. Tricky, huh?) I’m in the bedroom with the football game on typing out this post. I realize that watching stars accept accolades and adoration most of us will never approach in our lives while delivering poorly informed political rants with the occasional shout-out to Jesus Christ is exactly why most people watch that crap, but I just don’t have the stomach for it.
I don’t think anyone has invited Mike Patton to an awards ceremony for about 18 years. It’s too bad, because that guy is as strange and awesome as ever.