Pixar’s latest film Coco is being endowed with so many awards, they have their own Wikipedia page dedicated to tracking them all. It’s not all good news though. The film’s dominance highlights a concern that the industry is disconnecting from audiences in a potentially damaging way.
It’s that fabled time of the year, when the entertainment industry gets itself into a tizzy about shiny objects handed out to people for their efforts over the past year. It’s an exciting period to be sure, and the rumour mill is rife with who will win what, and who got snubbed this time, etc. etc. For all the season’s entertainment value on its own though, I’m giving awards season a miss this year, and the reasons aren’t as straightforward as you might expect.
Awards season is well and truly in swing (with the Annie Awards being the most relevant to this post) with plenty of back-slapping, schmoozing and thankfulness going on. However, a recent post by Ariel Seidman got me thinking; why is so much emphasis placed on awards? Shouldn’t rewards be the more important thing to desire?
The Idea Behind It
Here’s Ariel’s original post:
Award shows are deeply confusing to me. We reward the creators of movies, music, and now technology with a metal object. That’s not the reward. The reward is when people use the products we create. That’s it. There is no better high than seeing people enjoy the thing you created.
Codecademy founders get this. They won a Crunchie and had a customer accept the award and tell a story about how she is using Codecademy to advance her career by developing new skills. Beautiful.
I hope we all start doing this.
Why Ariel Is Right About Awards
While Ariel isn’t an animator, he’s got the right idea. As creators, it is much more desirable from a number of standpoints to see what you create being used as it was designed. Sure it’s nice to be appreciated by your peers, but at the end of the day, they will not be ones supporting you (financially or otherwise). Does it make sense to pander to them?
Imagine if you will, my film winning the Annie Award for best feature. Now I could get up there and thank a whole bunch of people, but how would that benefit my audience; my fans? It wouldn’t really, would it? Awards like that do a good job of stroking the egos of everyone involved, but they do not make better films nor do they endear audiences to the films.
What I’m getting at here is the fact that the rapid splintering of the entertainment business is rendering awards ceremonies kind of moot. That’s not to say they won’t exist, plenty of web awards are out there, but there is a huge difference between receiving an award for your hard work, and receiving praise/gratitude from fans.
I was buried in one of those sketches (a Catwoman I believe) when I looked up to see–and I apologize if I should have known or remembered who this was but my mind had become the consistency of tapioca pudding by that day–a fairly large man standing at my table holding a Cleo book wanting to buy it. Not for himself, which I immediately found out, but for his daughter too shy (or scared) to purchase it from me herself and who was currently hiding behind this fairly large man’s frame. She was maybe five? Six? Seven years old? I’m terrible at identifying age. She was young for certain. At any rate, this man asked if I would sign the Cleo book which of course I did and he handed me a five and I handed him back the book and then he handed the book to the little person standing behind him who MADE THE LOUDEST MOST EXCITING SCREAM OF GLEE revealing herself from behind her body guard clutching at what you would think was the greatest ice cream cone in the history of ice cream cones (sorry, when my mind goes to something really great all I can think of is ice cream). With a giant grin plastered to her face, staring at the cover, she ran down the aisle with another girl who magically appeared out of nowhere or who I simply didn’t notice (most likely the former). Then the fairly large man quickly thanked me and made his way down the aisle in the direction his daughter had ran off to.
So as a creator, would you rather have a lump of metal on your bookshelf or the knowledge that your creation is proving enjoyment not only to one person, but to millions all around the world? I know which one I would rather have.
Awards serve a purpose, but they are in no way a way a means to an end. They are instead a dead end. They acknowledge achievements and creativity, but they do not encourage it; they don’t imbue creators with the sense that their creations are being appreciated by the people for whom they were meant for. Feedback and gratitude from fans and casual viewers alike are rewards that all creators should aspire to.
Do you agree or would you still rather have an Oscar to keep under your pillow? Let us know with a comment!
By way of Debbie Staab, the French website Fubiz, which focuses on design matters, has decided to hold some awards this year. Surpurise surprise, there’s an animated category. There are 8 films in the running altogether and here’s a quick flavour of what’s on offer.
Don’t forget to check out the website to see the others.