Rewarding Work, Representing Work: The Serious Side of Entertainment in Globalised Award Shows

Rewarding Work, Representing Work: The Serious Side of Entertainment in Globalised Award Shows

Lukasz Swiatek
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6190-5.ch012
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Award shows are spectacular forms of entertainment that continue to proliferate around the world. This chapter closely examines award broadcasts and their features, especially their televisual production dynamics, and critically interrogates the positive, exciting, popular image of this celebratory form of entertainment. It also considers the differences between globalised and glocalised award telecasts. The chapter argues that these shows provide audiences with representations of work that reflect and endorse values related to work in capitalist societies. In particular, it claims, the shows convey the values of the Protestant work ethic, such as industriousness, diligence, and success. A case study of the Golden Globe Awards and international MTV Awards is used to confirm this argument.
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The world’s populations have long been entertaining themselves. Already in eighth-century China and 15th century Europe, individuals were enjoying mass media entertainment in the form of newspapers (Cooper-Chen, 2009). Indeed, most often, entertainment is understood with reference to such tangible items: to media commodities that are “produced, distributed, marketed, exhibited, and consumed … to provide viewers with amusement” (Mirrlees, 2013, p. 8). Yet, entertainment does not always take tangible forms, nor does it necessarily involve amusement or pleasure. As Oliver and Raney (2011, p. 985) point out, individuals consume a variety of entertainment types that do not always provide happiness: “Tragic drama, moving cinema, heartbreaking opera, or poignant novels and poems are but a few examples of entertainment that may be deeply gratifying, but not “enjoyable” in the colloquial sense of the term.” Central to this concept, though, is a universal cultural preoccupation (Zillmann, 2000) with deriving emotion from media and communications of various kinds, including events. Entertainment, then, can more broadly be understood as “experiences that are non-routine (outside the limits of daily, routine behaviour) … that provide opportunities for the legitimated expression of emotion and validation of identity” (Surratt, 2001, p. 110).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Protestant Work Ethic: The notion, developed by Max Weber, that the spirit and advancement of capitalism has been fuelled by a positive attitude towards work, enacted in behaviour whose qualities include industriousness, diligence, punctuality and honesty.

Globalisation: The processes facilitated by technological advances around the world that enable social, cultural, economic and political changes for, and greater interconnection between, states and their publics.

Spectacle: A visual, highly public social event that engages viewers around a particular phenomenon or activity.

Glocalisation: The intermeshing of the global and the local, such that local elements are entrenched in global elements.

Award Show: A production, usually televised, in which awards are presented to winners, usually featuring additional forms of entertainment, such as musical performances.

Entertainment: Any experience consumed by an individual, and provided by an entity or an event, that gives the individual an opportunity to feel an emotion or emotions.

Entertainment Industry: The set of enterprises or businesses that produce entities (such as films and video or computer games) and events (such as theatre performances and award shows) that give individuals the opportunity to feel an emotion or emotions.

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