Brits and women: Why I tuned out

March 24, 2020
As a youngster, I would sit up waiting for the Brits. I’d have my phone in hand ready to text my best friend when our favourite artists were on screen. Waiting to see my favourite artists be recognised for their work, waiting to see all the fun performances that I could only dream of viewing in person one day. The anticipation was palpable. You could taste the awe I had in the spectacle of the whole show.

But now, I sit and watch artists I’ve never heard of collect awards. Categories I used to participate in now cut. Scrapped. Put aside to make the show run smoother. All I could think of was how I would rather do anything else than watch the Brits. Which is a sentiment many felt too, as again the nights viewership fell, having an average audience of 3.8 million, a fall from last year’s 4.1 million average viewers.

This can be chalked up to the category overhaul and audience’s general tiredness of awards shows, as the Brits are right near the end of the season. Personally, I believe it was the lack of representation at the show. The lack of female representation. Whereas once I would sit up to see Taylor Swift and Little Mix perform and receive awards, now all we had in the way of women was Mabel and Billie Eilish. Two amazing young women but the talent pool was so much bigger, and many other amazing women could have been called to perform too. 

Looking at the nominees and winners of the night it was overwhelmingly masculine. The top 3 categories were full of men only including Mabel as the female contender. But that excluded album of the year, this category was all men. But as a female viewer, I could name at least 3 women from the UK that could have been put forward for album of the year. 

I spoke to Chloe Jarvis, music business student about - how as a woman – she felt about the poor representation at this years Brit. 

She admitted to not having watched this year’s show so I gave her the TLDR of the nominations and winners and the poor representation of women and this was what she had to say.

“As someone who studies and works within the music industry, I feel like it’s hard to be recognised as a female music professional because it’s been a very predominantly male field of work. I’d say that I’m angry but I’m more disappointed because there are so many artists who also deserve nominations for the awards. But at this point, I’m not surprised. It would be interesting to see who the panel of people who pick the nominations and to see their men to women ratio and their standpoint on it.”

This had me thinking about who did pick the nominees and winners, so I looked into it, seeing in 2016 Brits took steps to make their panel more diverse, having it be 52% male (still a majority) and 48% female. 17% of this panel being people of BAME backgrounds. The panel itself being made up of 1200 people. This I have noticed has made a difference as before the show was quite white but with performances like Daves and Stormzys changing the game with their visuals and their messages, it’s obvious Brits are taking steps towards change. Hopefully, soon that will include more women too.

She also gave me some insight into the panel’s nominations. The nominations which limit who the voters can pick from greatly. Which could work in favour or against any minority.

“they have a very specific way of judging who should be even nominated in the first place for the awards. Its neither held on statistics on whether that person or that group or whatever, if the artist has done well or has sold loads and loads of stuff. And it’s also not judged on a person’s popularity either.”

Following all this, I asked Chloe if she felt awards shows were necessary. As this has been a question rolling around my mind since watching the previous movie award shows and not being overly impressed by the spectacle anymore. 

She replied “I think they’re not necessary. Like an award show has never been a necessary thing. However, if we’re going to them, we should start judging them on statistics and abilities and the people and their fans how much of their music is being sold. And how well they’re doing in their field of work other than some “professionals” coming in and thinking ‘oh yeah, they’ll do’.”

I too think awards shows as a spectacle are defunct. Especially for people who want to tune in and see someone like them winning. Which is not what I got watching the brits and which is why I probably won't sit through them again.

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