Beyond glitz and glamour: exploring the shifts in contemporary award shows

The 81st Golden Globe Awards is set for this Sunday. Blythe Frank, assistant professor of film, television, and media arts and director of the cinematic production management master's program, said the awards show doesn't hold the same prestige it once did as a result of several societal changes and events.

The Golden Globes recognize talent in various areas of films and television series — from on-screen performances to musical scores. While it remains a staple in Hollywood, audience viewing practices have changed drastically in recent years.

“The Golden Globes are secondary to both the Oscars and Emmys,” said Frank. “Though the Golden Globes give out awards for excellence in both film and TV, their voting body is around 300 journalists, as opposed to the 10,500 voting membership of the Academy of Motion Pictures & Sciences comprised of industry professionals. The award show has come under scrutiny over the years, plagued by issues of lack of diversity and ethical procedures and this meager voting body, HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association), accused of their closeness to actors and studios and their ability to be easily influenced. This year is the first year the Globes are being produced by the new owners – Eldridge Industries and Dick Clark Productions, after the HFPA was dissolved in the wake of scandals."

Frank said the Golden Globes are a well-utilized tool by many studios to promote their films due to the event's early timeline in the season, but added the Golden Globes do not hold nearly as much weight as other respected events.

“In my opinion, award shows aren’t relevant anymore, for the most part,” said Frank. “Yes, the business of winning is baked into the industry, but it’s just as easy to find out who won the next day without having to sit through hours of speeches and an evening of what I consider ‘non-entertainment.’”

As streaming services and social media have been on the rise, broadcast television has been dying out slowly.

Programming such as the Golden Globes are presented on major broadcast networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and more, but many homes no longer have access to these channels.

Frank explained the trend toward “single viewership” and that the idea of watch parties is in the past. Social media live streams make it easy for fans to follow along with the winners, without having to actually watch the show.

Aside from tuning into the ceremony itself, many viewers do not recognize the content being awarded. A large portion of nominees are “tentpoles” or have limited theatrical releases, which lose the interest of fans.

“The glut of films that audiences watch nowadays are on paid video on demand or streaming,” Frank said. “People aren’t watching the same movies and there isn’t the same excitement towards watching, and rooting for certain films or shows to win.”

The 2023 Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes profoundly affected the entertainment industry as a whole. Less content was released and promoted this past year so there may be fewer films or shows recognized at the Golden Globes as a result. However, Frank predicts a more celebratory atmosphere at the event due to the prolonged hiatus of many filmmakers and their anticipated reunion.

While Frank is not an avid award show viewer herself, she acknowledges the admiration and enjoyment of many audience members who eagerly await the festivities.

The Golden Globes will be broadcasted live on CBS on January 7, as well as streamed on Paramount+.

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