Tonight’s Golden Globes reminded me of a point I haven’t seen made (though I am sure somebody has made it). Namely, why do actors and actresses thank a whole bunch of other people when they are on TV in front of millions of viewers who hate watching actors and actresses thank a whole bunch of other people? After all, it is arguable that awards shows are clearly and only about the viewers. Right?
Well, a quick point is in order. A “thank you” is like a gift—it is more meaningful when it is costly and demonstrates that the thanker “thought of” the person being thanked. The seconds one gets to speak on live TV are precious and fleeting. More importantly, an actor or actress sacrifices a lot (e.g., of at least hypothetical accolades) by not giving some meaningful speech and instead thanking one’s agent, producers, etc. This is even more true given the fact that nobody likes listening to such acknowledgments.
The fact that the time is limited and the awardee presumably had to prepare the list of people to thank without knowing for certain that he or she would actually win merely amplifies the cost—and accordingly, the meaningfulness—of the “gift” of the thanks.
But, here’s the kicker: the fact that we, the audience members, hate listening to “a list of thank you’s to otherwise anonymous industry people” bolsters the value and, accordingly, the incentive for actors and actresses to do this. So, in a nutshell, it’s kind of Alanis-esque: the fact that viewers of award shows hate listening to lists of thank you’s ironically causes /induces actors and actresses to get up on live TV and run through lists of thank you’s.
And, with that, I leave you with this.