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There has been a lot of chatter on social media about how political (shocker!) last night’s American Music Awards were. With a 29% decrease in viewers, it continued the trend of award shows getting political and Americans choosing to tune them out.
The three-hour program lost 25% of its 18-43 year-old viewers (1.8 rating/6.5 million viewers) from 2017, Variety reported Wednesday. The overall broadcast audience (2.4 rating/9.2 million viewers) suffered an even steeper decline of 29%.
“This is the latest example of an awards show seeing serious declines year-over-year. Back in September, the Emmy Awards on NBC also put up an all-time low,” Variety notes.
Some are calling for continued boycotts, which apparently have been working for a while. Others are telling the award shows to ban political speech from their winners. This is an interesting idea, but one that would come with consequences.
First, anyone making the Freedom of Speech argument misses the point. These awards shows are either private companies or sponsored by private companies. If they want to write out prepared vanilla speeches for all the winners to recite, that’s their choice.
But the mere appearance of censorship will cause a backlash that would not benefit the shows but would benefit those who choose to get political. So any attempt to make it apolitical by rule will result in the indignant celebrities either breaking the rules to raucous cheers or expressing their views about censorship on other channels, thereby amplifying their voice.
The sad part is these activist winners aren’t hurt at all by plummeting ratings. They win the award whether anyone watches them or not. The boost in sales from being seen winning is negligible. They’d rather be seen as activists by fewer people than by non-activists by more people.
As much as many Americans want them to shut up and do their jobs by entertaining us instead of scolding us, the only real way to make that happen is to stop supporting them. Don’t buy their music. Don’t even listen to it. Don’t reward their outbursts with financial gain. Tell your friends not to do it, either. If they want to be activists, let them be activists. Stop paying them to do it.
Their voices and the cumulative voices of their fans are great. The only way to get them to shut up and entertain us as they should is to reduce their sales. As long as they’re rewarded for being activists, they’ll keep being activists. Make them entertain again.
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