Award Shows Are On The Decline For This Generation’s Media Consumption

Billy Quinn, Reporter

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With the 2023 Oscars coming up in just a few days on March 12, I think it’s time to talk about whether award shows still have a place in the mainstream media.

Historically, award shows have been the pinnacle of the entertainment industry. If you win an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, or Tony, you are respected as the best in the world in that category. But in recent years the awards have become more and more controversial, and less and less respectable.

I think this decline is down to a few reasons. The first being a wider variety of mainstream content. With the first Grammys being held in 1959, the Grammys were dominated by white men, all with a similar style of music. In fact, there were only 28 categories for nominations. In 2023, there are 88. Since the inaugural ceremony we’ve seen the rise of hip-hop, electronic music, indie, rock, grunge, alternative, metal… the list goes on. Because of this new found diversity, it meant that the music audience is more divided than ever. 

In 1998, the Oscars reached an all time high with 55.3 million concurrent viewers, but in 2021 there was a record all time low of 10.8 million viewers. 1998 saw the release of what was at the time the most successful film ever Titanic being the first film to break the $1B mark. Unsurprisingly this brought a lot of eyes to the award show.

James Cameron directed the aforementioned Titanic, and also the 2022 release of Avatar: The Way of Water which smashed the gross of Titanic and quickly rose to the third highest grossing film of all time. In theory, that should mean that this year’s awards should be equally as successful… right?

The rising generation has a hard time connecting with this long form content, and rely heavily on the snappy, fast paced tempo that TikTok and Instagram Reels offer. Even with the new Avatar  film having so much commercial success, it still seemed to go in one ear and out the other. 

I think the biggest reason for the decline of award shows is that the award isn’t necessarily being judged for its content. The world of mainstream media has blended into this bizarre mix of controversy, politics, and media. The beautiful thing about art is that it could be removed from the artist, and anything surrounding it—but with the rise of cancel culture and social media, award shows have become progressively more and more conscious of choosing the “right” movie or music or tv show or whatever it may be, rather than the best. 

If awards shows want to return to the peak of television, they need to return to what they’re made for: rewarding great artists for creating great art.