Art isn’t all about awards

It’s the recognition we don’t get that makes us crave it more, but it’s the recognition we do get that inflates our egos. I suppose there really is no way to come out on top, even when you do.

Our culture revolves around a constant need to rate things and know who’s the best and who’s the worst in virtually any category — music, film, business and even in education.

At times, knowing who’s the ‘best’ can be crucial when, for example, you’re buying a car for your family, or pursuing post-secondary education.

More often than not, however, ratings are always subjective, even when the defined parameters are seemingly unbiased.

With awards season in full swing, every weekend is booked off to watch if our favourites of the past year are going to get the recognition they deserve – or the recognition we think they deserve, as critics ourselves.

Buckle up for some intense Twitter battles over if La La Land truly is the ground-breaking film many critics say it is, or if the millennial infatuation with Stanger Things will be mirrored by the who-knows-how-old critics determining the results.

But does all of this even matter? Not one bit.

That person, group or cast will still be your favourite even if they don’t win. And if they’re not, then your definition of success is rooted in all the wrong places. 

Sure, your excitement of seeing your idols walk up a temporary staircase to receive an award and recite a speech validates the time and energy you spent all year to push forward their celebrity status, but it doesn’t do much else.

That person, group or cast will still be your favourite even if they don’t win. And if they’re not, then your definition of success is rooted in all the wrong places.

If someone’s artistic expression makes you feel a certain way, that should be good enough. That should be your award to them.

The tears, the laughter and the anger you may have felt are all the accolades a work of art should be worth. If art can’t make you feel, a shiny trophy isn’t going to do anything other than be a paper weight or a dust magnet.

This doesn’t, however, negate from the fact that certain awards are seen as pinnacles of success, such as the Grammys and the Oscars. Artists and actors are people too, and like viewers, they must also crave validation for their art.

But my plea to them is the same: don’t get caught up in the red carpets and opinions of a subjectively ‘esteemed’ critic.

Especially in the space that entertainment occupies today, a connection with your fans and viewers is just as fulfilling. Awards should really only be a supplement to your success, not the focus.

If viewers and listeners find a deeper meaning within your art, then I’d like to think you’ve achieved success.

You’re making your art to express emotion and in hopes that others connect with it. That’s far better than trying to appeal to a prudish board of critics.

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