Giving awards for everything just shows how ridiculous and unimportant the whole idea is.
Until today, I was blissfully unaware that there was a Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA) and the British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association (BISHTA), let alone that they had an award ceremony, the British Pool and Hot Tub Awards. You learn something new every day it seems, in my case thanks to a flurry of emails announcing the winners. Just why either organisation decided that The Reprobate would be interested in knowing that All Weather Leisure Midlands won Residential Hot Tubs £7,000 to £14,000 (BRONZE) / Hot Tub Happiness (BRONZE) and Showroom of the Year (SILVER) or that New Dawn Pools of Lechlade won Residential Outdoor Liner Pools under £75,000 (SILVER STANDARD) and Residential Outdoor Concrete Pools £125,000 and Over (SILVER STANDARD) will forever remain a mystery. I don’t even know where Lechlade is but if I ever move there and want a massive swimming pool, I now know who the second best company to go to is. Sadly, the award ceremony seems to have had its guests sitting at tables in the traditional award ceremony style rather than lolling in hot tubs. An opportunity missed, I feel.
It’s easy to mock these sort of industry-specific awards, where business associations and trade groups give their members prizes in ludicrously niche categories that mean absolutely nothing to anyone outside the industry. But quite honestly, there’s very little difference between the British Pool and Hot Tub Awards and the BAFTAs, other than in how important each industry believes itself to be. The latter might have more famous winners and attendees but ultimately, it’s all the same thing – an industry slapping people on the back for doing their job. The British Pool and Hot Tub Awards are probably less fixated on politics and intersectionality – and, ironically, more genuinely diverse – than the BAFTAs, which might shout about the outrages of inequality but still remain the playground of the rich and privileged – but in the end, each of them is as pointless and self-congratulatory as the other. The BAFTAs, the Oscars, the BRITs et al – and their winners – obviously think that they are much more significant but in the end, it’s all just self-important backslapping and ego-stroking, congratulating people for playing the game and doing (or being) the right thing rather than for the actual quality of their work. It’s empty and pointless and meaningless.
Awards are, of course, a great way of getting publicity. That’s why I received over ten emails about the British Pool and Hot Tub Awards and it’s why magazines, websites and organisations launch their own awards in the hope of boosting their profile. A lot of people tend to take these things terribly seriously, even if the ‘nominating committee’ is a couple of people sitting in a room listing the things that they personally enjoyed in the last year or tipping the hat to their mates. I’ve seen people in the horror scene desperately and embarrassingly begging for votes in the Rondo Awards as if winning matters even slightly, music fans getting wildly worked up about who won – and who didn’t – in ‘best of the year’ lists compiled by obscure rock sites that they don’t even read. I’m not cynical enough to launch the Reprobate Awards as a way of boosting our profile, but believe me… I’ve thought about it.
Now, I’m not saying that there is no use at all for awards. Well, I am, but I do understand that they might play a part in certain industries. I’m sure that the employees of All Weather Leisure Midlands felt jolly pleased with their awards (or perhaps bitter at coming in third place, who knows?) and I see the value in the AVN Awards, XBiz Awards and similar, giving the people in a much-reviled and artistically dismissed business a moment of recognition for their work. You might argue that some awards shine a spotlight on overlooked work – Booker Prize winners have often been chin-strokingly uncommercial novels that only start to sell once they’ve won, though whether or not they deserve to is another matter. Naturally, we all feel pleased to have some public acknowledgement of our efforts. If The Reprobate ever wins an award – which, let’s face it, is not likely to happen for all sorts of reasons – then I wouldn’t be all high and mighty about it, though I might take the Groucho Marx approach of not wanting to be part of any club that would have me as a member.
On the other hand, awards for filmmakers, musicians, novelists, artists and the like – always the ones who are already successful, we might note – just seem like needlessly stroking the already giant egos of complete narcissists. For all the mockery we might give to parochial business awards, they at least seem more honest – even if there is probably as much palm-greasing, back-slapping and token gesturing as you’ll find at the Oscars. Frankly, I’m going to be more impressed if my plumber has been voted the best in the country than I am if the film I’m about to watch has won all the awards that year. The plumber’s peers are more likely to know what they are talking about, after all, and what he is doing is probably a lot more important to get right. But in the end, awards are all pointless publicity seeking and we should not take them remotely seriously or encourage their spread.
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