We were treated this week to two live awards broadcasts, the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards and the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. In addition to these awards, designed with great care to be as harmlessly transgressive as possible, we were treated to a deluge of banal tweets from critics, celebs, and our own friends and family. It was horrible.
In my position as a content guru and thought leader, it’s difficult when I have to chastise my fellow online denizens for their conduct, but sometimes, something must be done. In order to rescue our Twitter feeds, as well as our collective sense of dignity, I’m calling for a moratorium on awards show live tweeting. These tweets are nothing but cultural noise and are of little benefit to anyone. Neither the tweeter nor the tweet reader is in any way enriched by one’s pleas for Breaking Bad to sweep or real-time analysis of Taylor Swift’s VMA performance.
It’s not just that these tweets are annoying, it’s that they’re representative of a pernicious pop culture consumerism that has devolved into hashtag tribalism. Any legitimate criticism of, say, Game of Thrones or Beyonce is immediately drowned by a deluge of fanboys and fangirls (“stans” as the internet people say) who appear to exist solely to declare their undying affection and affiliation with pieces of entertainment.
And it’s not like Awards Twitter is some post-modern Algonquin Round Table, where wit and wisdom are shared on a global scale, rather, it’s a recursive feedback loop of exclamation points, misspellings and Jennifer Lawrence gifs.
When these folks aren’t vigorously defending their chosen idols, they’re heaping praise on creators in an unprecedentedly personal and inescapable way – in a way that I believe actually affects the final output of said creators. One need only compare the finales of the early “Golden Age of Television” dramas, run by tight-lipped auteurs like Davids Simon and Chase to the finales of more recent vintage like Lost and Breaking Bad to see how the increase in fan accessibility can lead to an increase in fanservice – often to the detriment of the art itself.
So I urge you, gentle reader, the next time you’re tempted to fire off 17 tweets about some awards show injustice, instead take a moment of reflection. Consider why your favorite didn’t win, consider why the winner did. Consider what the winners and losers may reflect about society as whole. It may well be that an inferior product won an award unjustly, but there’s no amount of online kvetching that will change that. I promise you, once you begin to step back and reflect on these things, the more thoughts you’ll have to share during the barren content winters between awards shows. Like Aesop’s ant, you will survive, while the foolhardy grasshoppers fade away like so many “wrap it up” musical cues.