Nobody Wins

Casey Murray, Opinion Editor

Casey Murray, Opinion Editor

Declaring Talent Show winners would only ensure that nobody won. There must be no such thing.

Firstly we must empathize with the performers. Performing in front of a large audience is immensely stressful as is. Perhaps I shouldn’t talk as I will be reviewing the Talent Show for The Forest Scout, but there it is: reviews aren’t exactly helpful as they are liable to be rather critical, but giving out prizes is like blowing up an oil tanker on the Great Barrier Reef.

If we divided the performers into some number of arbitrary groups and told them “by the way, you will be judged on how ‘good’ you are in the eyes of a handful of subjective judges,” we would only succeed in adding more stress to the situation. Competition can sometimes be a good motivator (at least I hope so — otherwise our entire economic system is based on a lie) but in the case of a talent show where we are being treated to an array of already stellar performances, I don’t see the need to demand more production value. Hundreds of human-hours have been sunk into this thing; how, exactly, would prizes enhance our appreciation for this tremendous sacrifice of time and energy?

The idea of any prize — general or categorical, it matters not — is also fundamentally illogical because of the subjectivity inherent in awards. I happen to despise rap music; does that make rap music bad? The fact that rap songs have won numerous awards provides a categorical response: no.

It does not matter what I like. It does not matter what you like. It does not matter what the Academy likes. We are all of us doomed to die, fated to be forgotten. Even if our civilization lasts ten thousand years it will still be erased from the memory of time (sorry, Vergil) by the millions that follow, and in eight billion years — maybe more, maybe less — this pale blue dot will be consumed by the hellfire of the expanding Sun.

Our fellow students are rising up to perform, to bring joy into our hearts, to become better at what they love. That is what we should honor, not their skill or their success.”

There is no point to subjective awards of any kind. What we like best varies from person to person, and that is something to be celebrated. Declaring that one point of view is simply “more correct” is illogical and insensitive towards those with differing opinions. Since none of this will be significant, since all of this will be forgotten — there is no reason we should sacrifice consensus to declare a single winner or group of winners.

Prizes and awards have a purpose — in sailing regattas or track meets, for instance, or in subjective areas where recognition is desperately needed (eg, world peace). Nobody can argue that Mahatma Gandhi did not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize; unfortunately, he never received the Nobel Peace Prize, a blight on the Nobel Prizes that serves as Exhibit A for the dangers of placing value on subjective awards.

But so many prizes and awards are also fundamentally immature and unworthy of a species that has split the atom and landed on the moon and wrought great works of art. At the end of the day they are things we pin to ourselves in the hope of attracting a mate, or a college, or a good job, or a Wikipedia entry. Too often they are but lowly recognitions of base achievements that have no bearing on our fundamental value as living beings. They focus on what we did and not why we did it, creating an endless cycle of competition that satiates only our greed for recognition.

Rosa Parks, Elanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama — these people are heroes who deserve to be recognized not for what they did but for why they did it. They killed monsters because it was the right thing to do; all else followed.

The Talent Show is, in its noblest form, essentially the same. Our fellow students are rising up to perform, to bring joy into our hearts, to become better at what they love. That is what we should honor, not their skill or their success.

And the only way to honor that is by packing the stands and drowning the stage in cheers.