Australians have the most inane need to criticise anything that celebrates our own success. Be it the ARIAs, the AACTAs or the Logies, the entertainment industry – the very same one that produced Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Sia, Margot Robbie, Toni Collette, INXS and more – gathers together to celebrate what has been achieved and we all collectively groan.
It seems people have to win a Grammy, an Emmy or an Oscar for us to proudly proclaim “look at our Cate!” But an Oscar is no more significant than an AACTA award. It is still just a bunch of well-informed industry folk deciding who deserves a pat on the back.
The fact the Australian industry decided Tones and I’s Dance Monkey was the best pop song this year is no more or less significant than the American industry deciding Lady Gaga’s Joanne was the best pop song in February. In the end, it is all subjective.
It’s unclear whether the tiresome awards pile-on is a result of Australia’s famous tall poppy syndrome or whether the other thing we are famous for, being happy-go-lucky larrikins, is actually just a mythical relic left over from Ned Kelly’s era and we’re all just hiding absolute misery behind our tans.
The ARIA Awards are not perfect. They need less of a focus on international acts and more of a focus on celebrating our own talent. This year the production values were better than ever, and the show was hugely entertaining.
But there were still, for those in the room, long periods of absolutely nothing happening or Richard Wilkins awkwardly riffing for reasons that no one understood. The writing for the award presenters was embarrassing – musicians aren’t natural public speakers, don’t try to make them be funny.
Get a creative director – like Mitchell Woodcock, who directed the performances of Khalid and Guy Sebastian and others last week – to make the show seamless from top to bottom. It’s the music industry; someone in the room must know how to put on a gig.
But mild criticisms aside, these are our awards. These are the musicians we listen to on the radio and stream through our phones, who we should celebrate, who we should champion to be the global superstars they richly deserve to be.