Why do folks watch awards shows?

This is a bit of a perennial question for me; the Oscars last night brought it back to mind. For televised events, I can’t imagine much that could be less interesting than an awards show. You’ve got stale patter from the host. You’ve got an endless stream of famous people giving the rote acceptance speech, thanking god, the Academy, and their parents. You’ve got dreadful big spectacle musical numbers and (to borrow a phrase from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour) “A Tribute to The MOVIES!” routines. You have several hundred reaction shots.

You’ve got, in other words, like four hours of concentrated non-entertainment. At least, that’s how it seems to me. Ratings remain decent enough to keep them on the air, though, so there must be something to it for somebody. About the only thing I can see is the casual NASCAR fan appeal of live tv–you always might get “lucky” and see a wreck. But that can’t explain it all. My best guess, such as it is, is that it has something to do with that “caring about celebrities” gene that I plainly lack. But even then, you can read People or whatever. So, folks, what’s the appeal?

I always have hopes that the host will be amusing. I only saw bits of last nights show. It wasn’t impressive. I usually start flipping during the acceptance speeches.

*De gustibus non est disputandum.*I don’t watch them, either, but I could say the same about other popular programs in which I would clearly be in the minority.

Some of us love the movies. And while the Oscars at its worst is a bunch of millionaires giving gold statues to other millionaires; at its best it is a celebration of the art of movies and filmmaking. I enjoy watching the behind-the-scenes people get recognized for putting out entertainment that I enjoy. I like seeing if others have the same opinions about movies that I do; or if they have different ideas about what makes a good movie.

I like learning about movies that I haven’t seen - maybe that will prompt me to see them; I already know that a lot of people think they were worth seeing.

I like a lot of the musical tributes, but certainly not all of them. But I like movie nostalgia - clips from film history; cultural touchstones. I also like making fun of celebrities who flub their moment on stage, or cheering for the ones I like when they win.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine. I don’t watch any other awards shows. But I love movies and I enjoy watching one night a year to celebrate the good ones.

What Skammer said. I don’t often watch the Oscars, but when I do I have a new list of films to see. At the very least they’re a taste of some of the best stuff from the last year. The same goes for literature awards. I don’t really care much for music awards, perhaps because it’s so much easier to dip into music and see what you like without the need for recommendations.

I think people like to see stars interacting with stars too. And simply stars out of scripted roles. Everyone is a little starstruck, some more than others. If you’re a Brad Pitt fan it was probably super fun to see him eat pizza and then get hassled by Ellen for not tipping enough. If you’re a Jennifer Lawrence fan you could have seen her trip on the red carpet (after tripping on the stairs last time!) and then joke about it.

I usually don’t see any of the movies up for Oscars or hear any of the music up for Grammys or half the shows at the Emmys but it’s still fun to tune in just to “see what happens.”

Firstly, I find it strange when someone demands that a bunch of complete strangers justify some interest that the first person doesn’t get. Watching the Oscars is entirely optional. You’re not missing anything of significance here. Live your life and don’t worry about it.

Nevertheless, I’ll explain as best I can, although I’m sure the OP will find this…unsatisfactory. I like movies. The Academy Awards ceremony is the only awards show I regularly watch. My tastes don’t really correspond with the tastes of the Academy, but it’s interesting to see who and what the Academy considers to be meritous, compared to what I do. I don’t have any particular interest in celebrity worship, but nevertheless find it interesting to observe these people for a few hours in the weird, hermetic celebiverse bubble that surrounds the ceremony. One otherwise unspoken-for Sunday night a year spent on this silliness does not seem excessive.

I’m sure there are lots of other folks who watch for other reasons, but I won’t speculate on what those may be.

Because they want to see who won, and in real time, not via shitty Yahoo! OMG! articles the next day? They find the host entertaining? They like the speeches? The fashion? People enjoy judging/observing what celebrities say and wear? (Have you never passed a grocery store checkout lane?) The performances? They’re entertained by them overall? You really have NO clue why anyone would watch an award show? Seriously?

Welcome to the Straight Dope, you’re new here, right?

Apparently. Hey guys, tell me about your boards. Is this where we pretend we honestly don’t understand why people like things that we don’t? Or do we seriously not get the concept of people liking different things? I need to know so I can navigate this place properly. Thanks.

One aspect that I enjoy that hasn’t been touched upon yet in this thread is that at awards shows (especially at the top of a particular field, like the Oscars), you have a good chance of seeing someone experience what very well may be the greatest moment of their life, all in real time. People tend to not have a camera in front of their face that broadcasts to millions of people when at the birth of their first child, or at their wedding - so this is one of those rare instances where we get to peak behind the curtain and remotely share in that sort of experience with others. Humans are social creatures - it’s in our nature to want to be a part of these things.

Knew I’d get a few of these. Yes, I am aware people like stuff I don’t; thus I asked. Yes, it is honestly baffling to me in this particular case; I generally don’t go in much for subterfuge. Yes, I am aware I am not required to watch awards shows; I spent most of last evening reading a book. No, I am not asking we ban the oscars from network tv.

To those who answered without snark, thanks. I’m personally at least somewhat interested in what wins and is nominated, as it usually indicates a certain baseline of quality. For the last few years, I watched the nominated animated shorts, though I missed them this year. Sounds like its a mix of that celeb-interest with a greater interest in The Movies as a thing than I have. Heck, I admit that if I could go back in time and see, say, the 1939 awards I’d hop on it as I’m more interested in “Golden Age” stars than I am in contemporary. (Mind you, I’m not going to go look it up on YouTube, heh.) So I suppose I’m not entirely unaffected by the draw.

LOL, okay. I spent most of last night reading too, and then I started drinking and watched reruns of “Always Sunny.” I literally cannot comprehend why anyone would have done anything else. I don’t like awards shows, so I need someone to explain to me why other people would. And why doesn’t everyone have my haircut? It’s practical and it’s fashionable. Guise? Does anybody know?

Because some of us enjoy lesbian and penis jokes.


“I honestly have to say, you showed us something in that film that I haven’t seen for a very long time.” — speaking to Jonah Hill, referencing his character’s prosthetic penis in The Wolf of Wall Street

Pretty much what Skammer and Munch said.

I love movies. I love when smaller movies without Billboard budgets get some attention. I love that millions of people have now heard of movies such as Her, Nebraska, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wind Rises, Blue Jasmine, The Grandmaster, The Great Beauty, 20 Feet From Stardom. Those titles are well-known to people who keep up with movies, even if not everyone has had a chance to see them, but most people don’t have time or opportunity. I’m not talking about those who don’t care at all about movies. There’s no reason why they should (although every 50’s/60’s music fan, even those who never ever care about or watch movies, should see 20 Feet From Stardom). But people who like movies but can’t follow them (I used to be one of them) heard some titles and saw some clips that might stick with them and pop back into their heads when they see it for rent or on streaming. Any entity that brings attention, however fleeting, to good movies, is worthwhile.

I also like the Artistic awards, often mistakenly called, even by me, the “Technical” awards. These people deserve their brief time in the sun, and it’s fun to see them excited and happy.

The Oscars make me happy. I used to watch a lot of awards shows, but ultimately have given them all up. I have watched at least part of every Oscar telecast but one since 1972, and the entire thing since about 1976. I skipped the 1989 show because I hadn’t seen any of the nominated films, and I’ve regretted it ever since. Every year, I think “another boring host, many winners I don’t know, long stretches of boredom, why bother?” and every year I end up glad that I watched. All I know is that for me, it’s about magic. I think it’s something about seeing people realize their dreams in front of billions of people, and acknowledging the enormous role that movies play in our lives, and somehow for one night capturing the emotional connection that we have to the movies. It’s like what they said last night introducing the animation awards - anything is possible in the movies. It’s beautiful and glittery and glamorous, and a good host ( I consider Ellen to be a good host) can make me feel like I’m a part of it all. It doesn’t hurt that the humor is usually to my taste, and that I love musical production numbers, but for me it’s really about that sense of wonder and excitement and the way the Oscars make me feel.

In 2011, after the nominees came out, I read a post (elsewhere, not at the Dope) complaining that they’d never heard of several of the movies and actors nominated. The reason it sticks with me is that they specifically mentioned as an example the movie Winter’s Bone, and its lead actress, whose name they couldn’t remember because they’d never heard of her before. It was, of course, Jennifer Lawrence. I would hope by now they know who she is.

Great points. I didn’t watch the Oscars, and didn’t feel like I missed anything. However, if they were to start televising the Reuben Awards, you couldn’t tear me away from it. (Although, as much as I might wish it to be so, I doubt that “millions of people” would be watching along with me.)

I just want to chime in here to say that not all people who love movies also love watching the Academy Awards. I *love *movies, but *hate *the awards. Just like I love eating, but don’t get off on cooking shows.

I can usually get several laughs from the hosts, and some of the musical numbers are entertaining. For some reason I have to watch the In Memoriam segment. Actually, last night, I clapped along with the audience when Bill Murray mentioned Harold Ramis.

The acting awards are actually my least favorite part. I do enjoy seeing the awards for the behind the scenes stuff: visual effects, sound and sound editing, makeup and hair, production design and costumes, editing, etc.