Saturday, January 14, 2006

Awards Economy


James English has written a book The Economy of Prestige on the importance attached to awards and prizes in popular culture today. Where is the discrimination in felicitating renowned personalities? As the awards season begins not just in Hollywood (the Golden Globes will be announced next week) but also back home (you can catch the Star Screen Awards tomorrow night on Star Plus), how does an ordinary viewer know what is worth watching and what isn't? There is tremendous back-room lobbying (SRK admitted as much for his Filmfare nod for Baazigar) and sometimes you are left wondering if the award is not meant to promote a particular company or business house as against rewarding talent. While no-one can deny the relevance of genuine rewarding, the mass-market economy is killing some of its charm.

They are also, English contends, indispensable for negotiating transactions between "cultural capital" and various other kinds of capital (capital being shorthand for leverage or power): economic (prizes draw notice, boost sales, make more money); social (prizes elevate status, offer entree); and political (prizes move blocs of people, advance causes, push agendas, sway attitudes - e.g. the much-nominated Brokeback Mountain).

Here's hoping that original works of art be it books, movies or blogs get their well-deserved due in the coming "awards season".

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