Be Grateful That There’s No "MTV Theatre Awards"

Anthony J. Piccione

By the time you get the chance to read this column, the MTV Video Music Awards will have been completed. I’m sure there will be some sort of crazy highlight that people will be talking about in the news this morning. With Miley Cyrus as the host, that’s bound to be a guarantee. Or maybe it could have something to do with another controversial celebrity such as Justin Bieber or Kanye West, both of whom – as of the time in which I’m writing this column – are scheduled to perform. Or maybe it will involve someone else that I’m forgetting. There is also the (highly unlikely) possibility that nothing too particularly obscene will happen during this year’s show, for once. In any case, there is one aspect of these pathetic excuses for award shows that has gotten me thinking this year.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: “What the hell does this have to do with a theatre blog?” The answer is simple: The other day, I was thinking about all MTV has done to bastardize art forms such as music and movies over the years by promoting what they consider to be “cool” or “relevant”, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like in the event that they were to do this with theatre, as well.

Can you imagine how much worse theatre would be if MTV did to our art form what they have already done to other art forms through their award shows? If the impact MTV appears to have had on music is any indicator, the only Broadway shows that the masses would care about would all be eerily similar to one another, with little to no originality left in the mainstream to go around. (As it is, I say that mainstream theatre could use a little more originality and a little less revivals, but that’s another topic for another day.) As for those plays that you appreciate that are not on Broadway, or are not quite as mainstream as the latest Tony-award winner? Well, if you ever dreamt of seeing those shows becoming more appreciated by the masses over time, you could kiss those dreams goodbye in this scenario. Furthermore, any awards given out to performers would have very little to do with their incredible acting, singing or dancing skills (or in some cases, lack thereof) and more to do with their ability to project themselves as “stars”. Anyone who cares about the future of theatre – and that especially includes those of us who have dedicated our lives to theatre – ought to find such a prospect highly appalling. 

I’m sure some of you reading this probably would say that I’m making a big deal out of nothing. You might say that anyone who has a problem with MTV or award shows such as the VMAs needs to get over themselves. Here’s what I say to those people: Normally, I wouldn’t care so much about what a bunch of celebrities are doing together on a Sunday night. But that’s because my work primarily has to do with an art form that has not been affected in any way, shape or form by award shows like the VMAs. Sure, I have some issues with the way the Tonys are presented each year, but at least they don’t glorify shallow celebrities at the expense of genuine talent in the way that MTV does. It is for that reason why I just wanted to point this out, because in a hypothetical world where there was such an award show for theatre, I have a feeling that not only would I feel strongly about this, but many other readers of this blog would also care, as well. Imagine that scenario for just a few seconds, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

So that’s all I have to say. Thankfully, this idea is not a reality. Hopefully, it will never become a reality. But for now, all I have to say is that – given how much award shows such as the VMAs have arguably contributed to popular music’s decline – we should all be grateful that such an award show for theatrical productions does not exist. Here’s to hoping that it stays that way. But for now, thanks for reading my little rant on this topic. ;)