News Opinion

Sunday 21 September 2014

Art is not a competition and awards like Oscars don't mean anything

George Byrne

Published 01/03/2014 | 14:05

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Villagers frontman Conor O'Brien accepts the Meteor Choice Music Prize

All award ceremonies are fundamentally flawed.

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In a week when Villagers' second album, Awayland, won the Meteor Choice Music Award and there will be a line or two penned about some glitzy bash in Los Angeles, surely it's about time we wondered just what on Earth these 'prizes' achieve.

The Meteors were set up as a snooty Indie alternative to those dreadful pop awards where -- dear God -- members of the actual public were allowed to vote for acts they liked, but now have their own live radio broadcast and a highlights package to be shown on RTE2.

How very mainstream, especially when this year's nominees included the Coldplay-lite of Kodaline yet ignored Cavan R&B tyros The Strypes.

And then we have the Oscars. The movie awards season seems to have been going on since Christmas, with the Golden Globes, Baftas, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild and the Uncle Tom Cobley Collective all dishing out gongs to a pick 'n' mix of the same four or five titles and actors.

Yes, there are some exceptionally fine films and great performances up for glory, movies which deserve as wide an audience as possible.

But is pitting one against the other the best way to shake members of the public into actually getting off their backsides and going to a cinema to see them the best way to go about it? I think not.

Art is not and should never be about competition in this sense. Of course, all artists should be in competition with themselves to produce the best work they can, but placing such emphasis on what is essentially an industry shindig is, quite simply, daft.

How can anyone possibly decide whether 12 Years a Slave is a 'better' film than Gravity?

I awarded both films five stars in this paper, and they are fabulous pieces of work.

But to even attempt to say that one is superior to the other when they're completely different in terms of story and execution is plainly ridiculous.

Art is not sport. There you either score more goals, hit more runs or reach the finishing line first and you're the winner.

That's simple. But when you start bringing in notions of artistic and aesthetic merit, it ceases to be sport and mutates into something else entirely.

The reverse is equally true, so get whatever you can from Nebraska, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club and the rest, debate their merits and flaws but please, don't put them in competition with each other.

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