Politicizing Awards Season: How Far Is Too Far?


Logan Gaertner, Contributor

It’s that time of year, folks! 2018 is starting to wind down, and that means awards season is winding up, and all of the greatest films that have released over the last twelve months are celebrated across many different outlets (most notably The Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and The Oscars). However, this discussion, in particular, won’t have as much of a focus on the films, but rather those who present an award the films this time of year. There has been an abundant amount of controversy surrounding the amount of politics that are incorporated into these programs, and for some, it has turned them off from tuning into shows like The Oscars entirely because of the political incorporation that, not only the showrunners and presenters provide, but the supposed agenda and bias of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as well. However, there are those that strongly support and believe that incorporation of politics into these awards shows celebrating the work and art that these people have worked tirelessly to make, is perfectly acceptable and allowed, despite the inevitable backlash. The argument is fairly compelling, and also equally as frustrating because both sides have solid arguments and complaints.

Let’s first observe the mindset of those who may think political incorporation in these programs is problematic and unnecessary.

A common criticism amongst people who may boycott or oppose these award shows is that it takes away from the actual purpose of the shows entirely, taking focus away from those getting recognized for their accomplishments in the world of cinema, and instead being a platform for celebrities, as some would say, to “spew” their political agendas on live television. It’s understandable that when someone tunes in for a show like the Golden Globes, expecting to see people being awarded and celebrated, and instead are treated to an out of left field political jab or comment that does nothing but make the entire event feel horribly awkward and tasteless to the viewer, they are going to just change the channel, and no longer pay attention. The focus is being taken away from the awards and is then being diverted to whatever an actor or actress may have said that may have upset some people politically. Also, another point that many opposers make that is fair to bring up, is that when a television show gets too political for a large number of people, then the ratings and viewership for the shows will go down significantly. For example, the ratings for the 2018 televised broadcast of The Oscars had dropped 16% from the previous year’s viewership, which may not sound like too much, but is still highly significant. Many say that the reason for the low viewership and ratings is because of the politics irritating the viewers.

In conclusion, the thoughts of those who oppose the politicization of modern-day awards season could be summed up by saying freedom of speech is a privilege that our country has, but there are an appropriate time and place to state one’s beliefs. It’s like sitting at the dinner table with family. Discussing politics is often discouraged because it’s not the right time or place. The same could be said for awards season.

Now, what’s the opposing argument? Some who support the politicization fairly state that the art that artists create is political; therefore, their advocacy towards the discussion of such politics in award show environments is perfectly allowed and appropriate, and poses the ideology that says if what is being celebrated in itself is political, then the showrunners and participants are allowed to speak their minds as much as they would like.

So, both sides of the debate deliver valid and interesting points, but how will it all play out this year? Regardless, awards season is still coming, and we’ll just have to wait and see.