The Sydney Morning Herald certainly seems to be making a determined pitch for the airheaded end of the Generation Y demographic, at least judging by its blog Sam and the City (whose author is if anything even sillier than The Australian‘s Emma Tom) and an opinion piece yesterday about the Logies (Australia’s half-baked version of the Emmys). The title of the opinion piece was a first person version of this post’s headline. The author argues:
WHEN did “popular” become a four-letter word? Or has it always been a dirty word?
Is it because by somehow rubbishing popular culture you set yourself apart? Or that by setting yourself apart you automatically earn intellectual brownie points and become part of some minority of elites whose job it is to sneer down their noses at everyone else?
But who’s rubbishing popular culture? Just about everyone watches escapist soapies or “reality” TV from time to time. Sneering at the Logies just can’t be equated with sneering at popular culture (except perhaps in dodgy university post-pomo humanities departments that have people like Ms Wood as Honours students). There are very good reasons to slag the Logies, as this Wikipedia entry explains:
The Logies are held in somewhat of a low regard both within the Australian television industry and outside of it. The industry itself is small and parochial enough to have few serious candidates. Particular individuals (such as Lisa McCune) and television shows are repeatedly re-nominated, regardless of the quality and quantity of their work in recent years. Journalists in particular will often seek to win peer-reviewed awards rather than anything in the popular vote category.
There are long-held suspicions that network publicists engage in mass voting to rig the results. However, no hard evidence has emerged for this, other than the experiment by the satirical newspaper The Chaser, who nearly caused low-profile SBS newsreader Anton Enus to win the Gold Logie. They did so by getting their small readership to buy copies of TV Week and vote for Enus for the award. While the attempt failed (narrowly, according to reports), their failure gives some cause for the widespread derision in the industry (particularly the “quality” end) towards the popular-vote awards.
Never shy about stealing someone else’s good idea (and who can blame them), Caz and the crew at Spin Starts Here recently tried to rig the Logies voting to have Simon “Hot Dogs” Deering win this year’s Gold Logie. If you have no idea who “Hot Dogs” is, I’m not surprised. Neither did I until I read Caz’s blog. Apparently his main claim to notoriety is that he is a former Big Brother contestant who “fame-whored” even more grossly than the norm for that program. “Hot Dogs” even has his own Wikipedia entry. See why they say it’s better than Encyclopedia Britannica! Sadly, Caz’s efforts at winning him a Gold Logie were stymied by threats from TV Week’s lawyers. But it’s hard to see why they objected to the “Hotdogs” campaign. He seems like a worthy candidate by the standards of the actual nominees for this year’s award.
Before we get too precious about the Logies fan-based voting process, however, it’s as well to remember that our very own Australian Blog Awards are selected in essentially the same spurious way. And they’re equally pointless. And for the same reasons as the Logies. This year they managed to fluke a worthy winner in David “Barista” Tiley, but the previous year someone obviously rorted the voting to spectacular effect. The award was won by Marieke “Ms Fits” Hardy, whose blog must be close to the most self-indulgent, incoherent piece of wankery I’ve ever read. Caz’s other half “The Hack” put it far more succinctly than I ever could in a post earlier today:
Don’t like being referred to as an egotistical, name-dropping c**t who excreted the single worst Australian TV drama since Holiday Island? Don’t bill yourself as a smug 30-year-old television writer you’ll probably hate.
Awards selected by random fan-based voting are inherently susceptible to being rorted, and every bit as meaningless as those silly blog opinion polls some people stick in their sidebar. But are awards selected by an “expert” panel any better? Take this year’s Archibald Prize for portraiture, which was won by a muddy, derivative piece of crap, as The Art Life discusses in a delightfully splenetic post that also manages to skewer the art critics of both The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald:
Was it only last Friday? It seems like an eternity since the Archibald, Wynne, Sulman and Photographic prizes were announced at the Art Gallery of NSW. By now you’ll know that Melbourne painter Marcus Wills won the $35,000 Archibald Prize for The Paul Juarszek Monolith [After Marcus Greenaerts] an unfathomable portrait which takes for its major form a ginormous head taken from an etching by the 17th Century Flemish master Greenaerts. The painting is obscure, highly detailed, painstakingly executed and completely without peer in the rest of the comp. The painting has craft and skill and it’s conceptually odd. As AGNSW trustee Imants Tiller’s told The Australian’s Rosalie Higson, “It was surprisingly easy to agree on the work.” For the captains of industry, media celebrities, doctors and artists on the gallery’s board, it had a little something for everyone. …
Then there’s the Oscars. The Academy usually seems to have come up with a fairly decent choice as Best Picture in recent years, but in the previous decade there was a distinct prevalence of hugely expensive heaps of cimematic faeces whose Oscar could only have been “earned” by the studio shelling out big bucks (or mass psychosis on the part of the Academy members). Films like Dances With Wolves (1990) (arguably one of the worst films of the last two decades), Forrest Gump (1994) (a cinematic box of chocolates that I quite liked, but Best Picture?), Titanic (1997) (about which the less said the better) and Gladiator (2000) (not a bad film but hardly best picture material).
Appreciation of any artistic endeavour is irretrievably subjective. My artistic masterpiece is your heap of crap. Medals and statues mean nothing irrespective of how winners are selected. Let’s leave them for pursuits that can be measured objectively, like most of the sports at the Olympics or Commonwealth games (except diving, gymnastics or synchronised swimming, which should be delisted as Olympic events anyway). I feel better now I’ve got this rant off my chest. Being a grumpy old man can be a burden sometimes.