Arts awards I!1 the flrmg lme

How much more industry

back-slapping can we take? Words: Doug lohnstone

Awards in the arts don't you just love ’em? Well no, because they're all self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, pretentious, back—slapping twatfests while Simultaneoust being very thinly-veiled industry promotional tools, that’s why.

There’s nothing qune as irritating as seeing some half-brained egotistical mu5iCian, author, actor or artist standing on stage, clutching an ugly little statuette while prattling on oh- so-humbly about how they c0uldn’t have done it without so-and-so, and really art’s the winner, while all the time their publiCist is haVing multiple orgasms off stage.

At the moment, we're slap bang in the middle of the Whitbread Book Awards, the annual barndance for British middle-class twits to try and punt books that no one ever reads to a thoroughly uninterested general public. They’ve picked the winners for four categories (Novel, First Novel, Biography and Poetry) and later this month these four illustrious tomes will go head to head to win the ‘prestigious’ Whitbread Book Of The Year.

Would anyone like to -tell me what the hell is the point in comparing a novel with a biography or a collection of poems? You might as well compare sirloin steak, your granny’s home made soup and Fruit Pastilles for the right to be called Best Food Ever.

Don't get me wrong, I’m not saying that any of these books are necessarily bad (actually, I am because I've unfortunately read a couple of shortlisted donkeys), it's just the process of judging one against another is about as worthwhile as trying to enjoy a Radiohead record.

And just look at the ’distinguished’ panel of judges. Chaired by everyone’s favourite simpleton lyricist Sir Tim Rice no less, the ten-strong meeting of minds also includes Alan Davies (that funny-haired bloke off the telly) and Matthew Pincent (yes, Steve Redgrave’s mate). And a bunch of idiot journalists who misguidedly think their opinions are worth anything whatsoever.


Alan Davies: one of the great minds behind the Whitbread Book Award

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I suggest for next year’s award, the panel should con5ist of Inspector Gadget, my mate’s dog Biff and that Maureen off Driving School. Wouldn’t be any more stupid, let's face it. But do not think for one minute that the ridiculous process of comparing chalk with cheese is restricted to the highbrow world of literature. This embarrassing desire for some kind of elitist group of experts to tell us, the punters, what work is of artistic merit is of course found across the arts.

In music, the Mercury Music Prize is an absurd middle-class, middle-aged, white male idea of what ’the kids' should be listening to. Tokenism is rife, as the Guardian-reading judges nominate a folk artist, an ethnic one, a dance one and a classical one, then pick the most obvious indie one as the winner. Then there's the BAFTAs, the Oscars, the Booker Prize, the Grammies, umpteen television awards, and don’t even get me started on the yearly publicity farce that is the Turner

The only way to treat these charades is with the contempt they deserve. Praise is due here to Bill Drummond and Jim

Cauty of the KLF and K Foundation. Not only did they award 40 grand one year to the Turner Prize winner for ’The Worst Art In Britain’, but as the KLF they played havoc at the Brit Awards by dumping dead sheep in the lobby, pretending to shoot everyone and driving around on stage as geriatrics in wheelchairs with massive horns on their heads.

Now, someone should award them a prize. Can I be on the judging panel? I Disagree? react©list co. uk

The Pipeline Coming quite soon. ..

The Quotes

'Dundee sign Maradona.’ One headline on the day that the offiCial jOint-Best Footballer In The World Ever agreed to pull on a strip (extra large) at Dens Park for charitable purposes.

‘The whole album is peppered with spastic magic. I'd like to call it The Exorcist III but knowing the rest of the band, they won't go for it.’

Stuart Braithwaite describes Mogwai’s forthcoming mu5ical foray.

'The BBC is hideously white.’

Greg Dyke, the channels director-general, makes a startling discovery while looking around the staff canteen. 'Listening to a woman commentate is a bit difficult; sport is still a man's world.’ Scotsport’s new rugby presenter Kathleen Wood has her own moment of revelation.

‘All you need is five songs and six strings on our guitar and you can wander all over Europe singing.‘

Frank McCourt takes the romantic route to describing 2 I st century Irishness.

The Beta boys muse over some summer bangs, whistles and girly harmonies

B TIIEIJIT 18 Jan-l Feb 2001

I suppose it had to happen. But why? Madonna and new hubby Guy Ritchie will be returning from their honeymoon and diving straight onto a film set

v-r with their meagrer anticipated

collaboration for The Mole. Shooting begins in March and

sees Maddy as an American girl

caught up in underworld shenanigans. . . An even more scary release later this year will be Silent Hill 2, the spine-chilling sequel to the most terrifying video game ever, while Lara Croft is set to meet her match when the makers of Tomb Raider get set to unveil their new creation, Project Eden, a futuristic dystopian bloodfest.

With puzzles. . . Those bonkers boys who make up The Beta Band will be eclecticising their way back into our hearts this summer with En Vogue producer C-Swlng inserting the whistles, bangs, girly harmonies and other twiddly bits. We’d love to see them at this year‘s T in the Park, but we don't organise it so don't shout at us if they're not . . . He may be the second most famous manchild in the world (after Michael Jackson, who is too busy getting out of his face these days), but it doesn’t stop Steven Splelberg being able to put in an honest day's shift. The results of his recent labours include two releases for 2002.

Al: Artificial Intelligence was a project close to Stanley Kubrick's heart - until said organ unfortunately caved in during 1999 - but Spielberg has flexed his billionaire biceps to salvage this tale of human vs. robot warfare. Helping the project steer clear of gloopy sentimentality is Chris Cunnlngharn, the man behind scary music promos for the likes of Aphex Twin and ijrk who has been designing tin folk for the film since Its inception. Part two of the 5.5. campaign for' world domination is Minority Report, yet more sci-fl doodlings, this time with the ever-bankable Tom Cruise.