Eeek! Some Kind of an Awards Show on Sunday

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on February 1, 2014

There are several reasons to lose interest in the annual black tie circuses known as the Grammys – or any other awards shows, such as the hours of excessive pre-program coverage that creates a false sense of importance, the parade of egos who engage in shameless publicity stunts, and the armchair activists who bravely protest the self-perceived atrocities committed by the US. On the other hand, where else could viewers witness the rise of new careers and the self-destruction of others, on the same night?

Some of the post-Grammy coverage may not be as much of a waste of time as the pre-Grammy handicapping is. In fact, morning-after-the-night-before stories about the usual, shameless wackiness that is committed on these telecasts by the usual, shameless egomaniacs who insist on shredding their theoretical dignity, almost serve as an exercise in accident re-creation, showing how the proverbial family wagon i.e., the awards program, had been driven into a tree by ruthless attention mongers. These reviews spare many people the pain of having to endure the carnage as it happens.

If it weren’t for this regurgitated filler material, how many non-viewers would have been cheated out of knowing that Wu Tang Clan’s ODB walked onstage during Shawn Colvin’s award presentation in the name of self-promotion?
Yes, just like the hype before the show, post-Grammy overkill is alive and well – thanks to the obsolete media. The term “obsolete media” applies to any news broadcast or newspaper that has voluntarily surrendered its credibility by either editing the news in the name of advancing an agenda, or sacrificing legitimate news coverage for whatever constitutes tabloid news, such as the Grammys.

After Adele performed on the 2012 edition, CBS News, in pseudo-dramatic fashion, reported that “millions of Adele fans around the world held their breath in anticipation of her post-surgery comeback, so she could sing the breakup song of the decade,” or some pantload dialogue like that.

As for “taking a stand” in front of a captive audience, the armchair activism that has infected what is supposed to be an awards presentation – a night of recognition of people in the music industry, has finally enveloped and claimed its victim. The virus? Some kind of wedding – at least this is what its promoters want to pass it off as.
When thirty-plus pairs of individuals take part in a mass-wedding that is as real as the wood trim in a 1991 Chevy Caprice, those cultural rebels aren’t standing-up to a ruthless government that has violently oppressed their cause, they are saying “Hey look, we crashed the Grammys.”

Ah, armchair activism: the act of boldly standing up for the rights of women and homosexuals in a country where those brave warriors of publicity need not fear government retaliation – while truly horrific government-sponsored acts of evil are committed in such places as Iran and China. Of course, these hardened activists only dare speak out against these truly evil governments in the form of faded “free Tibet” bumper stickers.

And then, there is Katy Perry.

Supposedly, Ms. Perry’s contribution to the festivities arrived in the form of a bit that has been described as an occult-ish ritual. Based on the fact that she had grown up as the daughter of missionaries, it is safe to assume that she is an unknowing victim of culture shock. The transition of moving from a sheltered life to that of a public figure in a short period of time could have left her vulnerable to manipulation.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to listen to her songs in their entirety, since I change radio stations as soon as her singing turns into goofy, irritating noises. However, based on the somewhat-tolerable lyrics in her songs that I have heard, she comes across as someone who is very naïve for her age. Whereas the likes of Carole King and Adele had written more mature-sounding songs at younger ages, Perry sings about subjects that would appeal to a songwriter who is about ten years younger than she currently is.

Was her performance on Sunday the act of a manipulated, naïve young woman, or an act of rebellion by someone who wasn’t able to rebel during her teenage years? We may or may not find out – depending on the longevity of her career.
If anyone has perfectly described the uselessness of the “proven opinions” of rock stars and actors, it is Dennis DeYoung on his 2004 album Dennis Deyoung and the Music of Styx. In the intro to his song Babe, Mr. DeYoung offers a few lines that put into perspective just how the entertainment business has nothing in common with the world in which the rest of us live. Putting these words of wisdom into print form doesn’t translate as effectively as actually hearing them; they are definitely worth a listen.

MTV has been cited by those who embrace the hyped importance of pop culture as a major influence in the world. Perhaps this view contains a shred of validity when it comes to the social dysfunction which has bled over from the MTV Video Music Awards to other awards shows, especially the Grammys. When people exploit an opportunity that is meant to honor their work, there is an underlying message – a message that the recognition of others is unimportant compared to the opportunity for the recipient to prove just how “intellectually enlightened and socially conscious” he or she may or may not be. It is these opportunities that equate into reasons to lose interest in what used to be awards shows.

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Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for