Charlie's Blog: Competition and Art

12.31.2015

Competition and Art


The whole concept of awards is silly, I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't.
WOODY ALLEN

There is no competition in art. Of course, this does not keep artists from competing, but the whole concept is an absurdity. Woody Allen is famous for not attending the Oscars despite winning three awards and being nominated numerous times. His reason for not attending is fairly simple. Making movies is not the same as playing a basketball game. Art is not a game you win or lose.

Art is subjective. I won't go so far as to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I can say that Bob Dylan would stand no chance of winning on American Idol if he were a young man competing today as an unknown. Likewise, Woody Allen loses at the box office to a hack like Michael Bay, but I would rather attend an Allen movie than see another installment of the Transformers franchise.

I reject all awards for artistic productions. This would be the Oscars, the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzers, and the like. Trophies should be reserved for sports which are competitions. But art cannot be a sport. Yet, people try and turn artistic endeavors into sports. Why?

There is something sick and sad in turning things into competitions when they aren't competitions. The biggest offender in this regard today would be Food Network with their endless cooking competition shows like Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. It is so bad now that chefs now trash talk each other almost like professional wrestlers trying to stir up fan interest in their faux competitions.


Talent shows like American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, and others also jump into this aesthetic competition thing. Then, there is the Miss America pageant and beauty contests. This narrative of competition is popular because it creates drama, but it is ultimately very silly. Chefs are not athletes. Artists are not baseball players.

People love to think of winners and losers in life as if life is some kind of game. Life is not a game. Art is not a game either. Neither is cooking. Where I work, certain employees try to turn the job into a game and a competition probably in some vain attempt to make work fun. I simply cede the victory and declare that they are able to pick way more cotton than I can for the master of the plantation. Some things can never be a sport. Work is one of those things.

Competition also lends itself to status where you are either a winner or a loser in life. So, you can spend the entirety of your life being a really good chef and building a solid relationship with your customers but watch it all get blown to hell because you lost the first round of Chopped to some tattooed Chinese recovering crystal meth addict hoping to win the competition for his mom's brain surgery and/or a down payment on a motorcycle who happened to turn out a slightly more flavorful dish made from gummy bears, jackfruit, calf liver, and dog feces.

The fact is that Apocalypse Now lost to Kramer vs. Kramer in the Oscar race for Best Picture. Now, I don't know which is the better picture, but I can say that I've only watched Kramer once and forgot it while I have watched Apocalypse more times than I can count. Was the Academy wrong that year? Or, was that just the year they were all going through messy divorces and wanted to forget Vietnam? Who knows? What I know is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to artistic preferences. This is because art cannot be quantified. There are no points in art or cooking or music.

I agree with Woody Allen. On Oscar night, you are better off staying in New York and playing the clarinet. There is no competition in art.