Sunday night, the red carpet rolled out, marking the beginning of the award show season for Hollywood. Celebrities dressed to the nines, some hope to take home a Golden Globe and others there to bask in the opulence of the night.
But what does it mean to us, the viewers, the ones sitting at home dressed in sweats shoveling popcorn into our mouth? It’s no secret the award show’s viewership is on the decline and has steadily gone down over the past few years, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Unlike its award show brethren, however, the Golden Globes only fell less than five percent in viewership, while other award shows, like the Grammys, whose viewership fell 28 percent, haven’t been so lucky, falling in the double digits percentage-wise over the past few years.
There are a few reasons that can be attributed to this drop. For one, instead of watching three hours of speeches, you can watch the five-minute highlight reel the next morning. And there are also a few small indie companies to consider, Netflix and Amazon, which may be stealing the show away from cable networks. Or, maybe it’s the possibility that people are failing to see the point of watching an entire industry praise themselves over the course of multiple weeks of awards.
Whatever the case may be, the question remains: Do award shows still have a place in our entertainment sphere? It’s hard to say because we don’t even watch them. We only read about the highlights the next morning and scroll through Twitter to get a general gist of the night. But we did notice one thing from the Golden Globes on Sunday that made us think that Awards shows may still have some relevance. Sandra Oh, the host of the Globes alongside Andy Samberg, had a short speech at the end of the hosts’ monologue. It was a serious one, breaking the tradition of comical award show monologues.
“I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change, and I’m not fooling myself,” Oh said. “Next year could be different, it probably will be, but right now, this moment is real. Trust me, it is real, because I see you, and I see you, all of these faces of change, and now, so will everyone else.”
Oh was referring to a wave of diverse casts sitting in the audience, like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” both nominated for multiple awards Sunday. Neither movies won anything at the Globes, but it does serve as a reminder of what films and shows are meant to represent: life. Hollywood is notorious for white-washing. “Crazy Rich Asians” was the first American film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast and Asian-American lead.
The purpose of award shows is to highlight extraordinary talent, but if it also highlights people who represent other cultures and ethnicities along the way, then that’s where they stay relevant. Movies and television shows are a reflection of our own society, and they should convey a message that needs to be addressed. When we have award shows like the Golden Globes that are nominating films that represent what society looks like today, then they are enforcing the importance of representation in film.
Award shows may not be receiving record-breaking viewership, but they still receive a mountain of coverage from media outlets highlighting the social nuances of the night. Award shows have the ability to break boundaries that Hollywood and society have constructed over decades. Encouraging the creation of stories that mimic real life is a way to encourage the acceptance of society as a whole. Award shows continue to break gender and race norms, giving them a place to make real changes in the entertainment industry and, more importantly, society.