Does anybody care about the Grammys?

A few weeks ago, I surprised a student by both not realizing the Grammy nominations were coming soon and by not caring about them at all. The student was very excited about the Grammy awards show that airs on television every year, and looked forward to the nominations each year in preparation for the show. When I asked the student what they thought about the nominations, however, they admitted that they really did not care and saw that part as just a lead in for the television special.

This experience made me wonder if anyone really cares about the Grammys. I realize that some suggest Grammy nominees and winners often experience potential boosts in the sales of their products, and that every year there are various essays, discussions, and debates about hating the Grammys, loving the Grammys, and every perspective in between. I am also aware of many times when artists have explained why the Grammys are meaningless to them and other occasions where artists talked about how important the Grammys were to and for them. I am also well aware of ongoing discussions about snubs and surprises every year at the Grammys, and ongoing discussions about the odd process of voting and selecting artists and categories. However, what I wonder is does anyone – especially outside the music industries – actually care about the Grammys?

As I often do when I’m curious about any topic, I began asking people what they thought of the Grammys over the past couple weeks. While this exercise in no way suggests any kind of definitive answer to the question, I rarely found anyone who actually cared about the Grammys or who remembered previous winners or nominees. Rather, the people who seemed genuinely interested in the topic – like the student mentioned above – only seemed to care about the actual broadcast or show put on every year on television. Many people talked about how much fun that show is, and how much they enjoy watching it and other award shows every year, but very few showed any real interest in the awards themselves. This made me wonder what the “meaning” of the term Grammy actually is among everyday people. Do they think of the award, the nominees, the winners, the losers, the process, or simply the television show? Or do people think of some combination between these and other elements concerning the term?

While I think each of these questions – and many others – might offer fascinating ideas for studying a wide variety of awards related to various artistic creations, in the end I have to admit that I personally could care less about the Grammys or other award rituals for that matter. As is the case most years I can recall, I took a look over the announced nominees this week, and while I am familiar with most of the nominees and may check out some of the ones I have not tried yet, my overall thought was that in every category I could make arguments for the people present and for other people not present depending on what characteristics I used to evaluate the pool. As a result, I once again come back to my initial questions – does anyone outside of the music industry care about the Grammys, and what (if anything) do these awards mean?

J. Sumerau


About Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction - Blog

The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization of scholars interested in the study of a wide range of social issues with an emphasis on identity, everyday practice, and language.
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