Back in the day I was privileged enough to be in the room while Martha Quinn from MTV interviewed Van Halen frontman, David Lee Roth. Martha asked (and I paraphrase) “Dave, you’ve been in the biz for a long time now. What’s the secret to making it in rock n roll?”
He paused and then spun a metaphorical yarn from his youth about a few lids of bunk pot he couldn’t move. Only after wrapping them in Asian newspapers and then telling everyone it was the most amazing stuff – right off the boat – was he able to unload them. Aghast, Martha pressed him, “What does that have to do with rock n roll?” David laughed, “It’s marketing, Martha. It’s all marketing.”
What does that have to do with Grammy Awards tonight? Well there is no doubt that a Grammy is a great marketing vehicle – a win translates into a guaranteed bump in sales. But it’s not the marketing that upsets me. It’s that the entertainment industry is becoming less about the celebration and more about manufacturing moments. What’s the line in Vegas on some crazy OMG THAT DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN stunt going down tonight? I’m not saying that the winners are not real. I’m not saying that the winners aren’t deserving. It’s an awards show. It’s subjective. So, congratulation to all of the winners, in advance.
But, wardrobe malfunction? Bruno mistakenly landing on Eminem’s head? Kanye West’s outburst during Taylor Swift’s speech? The wedding dancers? Brett Farve spontaneously singing “Pants on the Ground?” Yeah, not a lot of Grammy references here. But I have worked on award shows. And a lot of this stuff is scripted and then bloggers are hired to drive up buzz around any number of subjects: people, videos or songs? I’m not inside the tent anymore, but do you really think this stuff is real? And please tell me the Grammy Awards are immune to this. Please. This isn’t big time wrestling. I love music. This should be a night of celebration, not stunts. Don’t do Grammy Awards. Don’t do it.
But like Holden Caulfield in “Catcher in the Rye,” the phonies are getting to me. And so I got up this morning and decided not to watch the Grammy Awards tonight. I’ll crank up some of my personal favorites from last year and dance around the living room instead. Please let me get up on Monday and debate whether The Ting Tings or MGMT are actually the Best New Artist, and not a manufactured moment from the show wrapped in an Asian newspaper.