A website called actualschedules.com includes a list of annual awards shows. To make this list, the site says, a show has to meet three criteria: It has to be an awards show, be televised and be televised in the United States.
Granted, those are really only two categories, because the third makes the second superfluous, and the first one is a silly "criterion" for a list of award show.
But anyway, in 2013, the site says, there are more than 80 nationally televised awards shows. That's about one every four-and-a half days.
A few are sports awards and pageants, and two or three are humanitarian awards. But the rest are for arts and entertainment.
Besides tonight's Emmy Awards and a few other biggies -- the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys -- they're obscure and/or stupid.
There are Kids Choice, Teens' Choice and Spike Guys' Choice awards. There's a BAFTA Awards show and Brittania Awards presented by BAFTA. (BAFTA is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. I write about this stuff every day and I still had to look it up to see exactly what the initials stood for.)
There are the Stellar Gospel Awards and the NowNow Next Awards. (I looked this one up and I still don't get it.)
Going through the list I was actually surprised that there wasn't an awards show for awards shows. There could be categories for best statuette, best acceptance speech, best scandalous behavior by a provocatively dressed young female singer.
Anyway, the proliferation of award shows is annoying, but we can only assume that the people who decide to put these things on TV know what they're doing. You and I may not know anyone who watches the Young Hollywood Awards (which this year gave its "Most Anticipated Tour Award" to Selena Gomez), but apparently enough people watch them that they make money for a lot of people.
But there's something a little unsettling about awards for arts and entertainment, and the more artistic the endeavor the more unsettling the awards become.
The reason they're disturbing is that one essential element of the arts, and especially performing arts, is that they're about cooperation, not competition. Celebrating one actor as the "best" is simply distasteful.
And many are voted on by such large numbers of people -- especially in
the case of the proliferating "choice" awards that anyone can vote for -- that they become nothing more than mirrors of the sales charts or of lowest-common-denominator tastes. That can even be true of awards such as the Grammys, which gave Jethro Tull an award for hard rock/metal because not enough people in the music industry had heard Metallica at that point, and gave the Best New Artist Award in 1964, the year the Beatles and the Rolling Stones came to America, to someone named Ward Swingle.
I get the appeal. Entertainment and arts can be nebulous things to write and talk about. Awards shows give us clear winner and losers, celebrating underdogs and disappointed favorites. The stories are obvious, to both us in the media and people who like to talk and post and tweet about such matters.
But they're meaningless except for financial considerations, and the shows themselves are -- almost everyone would agree -- boring and obnoxious. The shows themselves are, in fact, hours-long infomericals.
Still, I watch the Grammys and Oscars for a few minutes while I'm channel-flipping, and I'll take in a bit of the Tony Awards because it's the first chance to see bits of shows that will be coming to the area in a year or two. But when something like the Fourth annual Critics' Choice Television Awards come on in 2014, my choice will be to watch something else.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.