Join Greg and Diane on Mondays as we debate a TV-related issue that’s on our minds. This week: with the Canadian Screen Awards broadcast coming up on March 1, we ponder whether they matter.
“Matter” is such a big word. Every profession has awards, and they tend to matter a lot to the people receiving them. I remember the pride I felt as a young teen for winning Harvey’s Employee of the Month award (less so when I realized it was because I’d done such a good job of the terrible assignment to scrub the insides of the giant garbage cans). The difference with TV and film awards is they’re televised, and the audience cares more about them than hamburger customers do.
I rarely see a show or actor trumpeted for the rest of their career as a Gemini or Canadian Screen Award winner, as you see with Oscars and Emmys, but the size of our country — and therefore the size of our industry and audiences — help explain why the cachet isn’t the same.
It’s nice for people to be recognized for the quality of their work rather than the audience reaction, which can be two very different things. Though the CSAs — come on, can’t they come up with their own official nickname — have a fan award and ratings award too. Not content with being Canada’s answer to the Oscars and Emmys rolled into one, they have to be the People’s Choice and Nielsens, too.
Above all, the awards provide the opportunity for promotion, and the Canadian TV industry needs more of that. Debating winners, snubs, whether the awards matter — it’s a vehicle to get us talking. Do the most worthy shows and people always get nominated and win? Of course not, and it’s too subjective to say anyway, as with all awards. I’m sure there was a Harvey’s employee seething that they lost to someone who scrubbed garbage cans.
First of all, belated congratulations to Diane on her Harvey’s Employee of the Month award. I’ve never gotten any awards outside of those Canadian Fitness Awards they gave out in elementary school and mine read “Participant.”
Like Diane said, “matter” is a subjective word but I think the Canadian Screen Awards matter. A lot. The Brits have their BAFTA Awards and the U.S. have copious awards to pat themselves on the back about, so why not us? Except the CSAs represent something that I think is very important: an acknowledgment that we know how to make great television and feature films. It’s true that we don’t have a funky, cool pet name for the trophy given out, but that’s not a big deal to me. What isa big deal is broadcasting to the country that there are passionate people working in the Canadian television industry that fight incredible odds just to get shows on the air in the first place.
Are the CSAs perfect? No. Sometimes the nomination list comes off like a popularity contest (something any award show is accused of) and the three-night event is often scoffed at for being too bloated. But I’d much rather there be too many than not enough trophies. It’s time for Canadians to stop complaining about the dearth of good television (those baby steps are being taken), and check out the CSAs on March 1. See who wins, make a note of the show they’re nominated on behalf of and then watch an episode of that show. That’s how I found out about Blackstone and it’s a gateway for others to do the same.