The Global Citizen Prize Is A Back Slapping Parade Of Unspeakable Awfulness


Self righteousness and self importance make for a new contender as the world’s worst award ceremony.

The Global Citizen Prize. Well, that’s some impressive, high-falutin’ stuff right there. It surely puts all other awards in the shade – I mean, the winner is literally the best person in the world. Take that, Nobel Prizes.

Given the whole climate change thing and her previous declaration as Time‘s Person of the Year, you might think that child messiah Greta Thunberg would be a shoe-in for Global Citizen of the Year, but that’s only because you’ve forgotten about Richard Curtis. Yes, that Richard Curtis, the man who brought us the likes of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones 2 and all manner of other middle class atrocities. Described in the press release as “one of the world’s most beloved filmmakers”, which I would argue is a somewhat contestable claim, Curtis has been named as the most important person in the world  not because of his work on The Boat That Rocked, but because of his involvement in Comic Relief, Sport Relief and other charitable fund rasiers of debated value (whether it’s dodgy investments or claims of white saviourism, charities like this are rarely as faultless as they might like you to think). There’s no doubt that Curtis has fronted high profile charities that make a lot of money and allow celebrities to flaunt their caring side while coincidentally boosting their public profile, but whether that qualifies him as Global Citizen of the Year is something that we might care to debate.

If that award raises eyebrows, you might be even more aghast at the award for Global Citizen Artist of the Year, which goes to – you might want to sit down for this – Sting. Not, for the avoidance of doubt, the American wrestler (I might actually be down with that choice, and the number of WWE wrestlers in attendance might have made it seem possible), but the former Police-man and notorious gobshite who likes to tell us to reduce our (generally meagre) carbon footprints even as he jets around the world doing important stuff like collecting awards. In his acceptance speech, Sting said that “I accept this award with the same humility that I would feel as a schoolboy reading my end of term report card”, which might have caused you to choke on your drink as it did me. ‘Humility’ is not the first word that comes to mind when we think of Sting, I might suggest.

Joining the (self-professed) great, the good and the people who would turn up for the opening of an envelope (seriously – the amount of people you’d have to look up on the red carpet just to see why they are famous is remarkable) at the exclusive award ceremony were performers Stormzy and Chris Martin – well, of course – as well as host John Legend and award presenter Leona Lewis, who had presuably flown in from her recently purchased home in a Los Angeles gated community. Men and women of the people, each and all.

A cynic might say that events like this are essentially orgies of celebrity self-congratulation, a chance for the rich and famous to remind the world of their selfless charity work that helps raise profiles and keep those multi million dollar fortunes from dipping. It’s easy to donate impressive looking sums very publicly to charity or to lend your name to fashionable causes when you already have several homes, a paid staff and more money than most people could ever dream of. Raising awareness is all well and good, but more often than not, the awareness that activist celebrities are raising is primarily of themselves. The idea of then showering them with awards for doing so, while ignoring the hard-working people on the ground who are giving far more of what they have far less of – be it time or money – is rather repulsive. These are people who don’t need their egos stroking any more.

You can ‘enjoy’ the ceremony on NBC in the USA and Sky in the UK this weekend. Remember to doff your caps to your betters as you watch.