Written by Adam Kline
Today, the smaller the screen, the more time we’re likely to spend with it, which can mean more time spent watching movies or shows on our portable devices alone, rather than sharing in a communal experience at the movie theatre or watching TV together at home.
Laptops and phones have quickly become the most frequently viewed screens and sources of storytelling in our lives. So much has changed in such a short amount of time that it’s hard to know what we can still watch together, let alone celebrate together.
Every screen has its own awards season. This year the Academy Awards (or Oscars) will air March 12. The Canadian Screen Awards, which celebrate both film and television, will host a whole week of festivities starting April 11. The Emmys will likely be held in September, and then the Streamys, celebrating international online content, take place at the end of the year.
Award shows often spark discussion and debate, raising a lot of questions: Are they aspirational for young artists or self-indulgent and elitist? Do awards seasons inspire creativity or expose an ever-increasing social divide?
I believe we can find common ground and bring generations together through these events that celebrate stories. I grew up watching the Oscars with my parents, and we made a whole night of it. Now I share this tradition with my children. The Oscars are a big deal in my house. Even when the nominees are announced several weeks prior, I watch them live. And even though my favourite films are hardly ever recognised, I see the value of recognising the art form and making celebrated films a point of conversation.
But with so many different streaming sources and the sheer volume of content that’s always available, different generations are often at odds with their stories of choice. It’s becoming harder and harder to share common ground, create a consensus, and invite intergenerational viewership.
One illustration of this shift is the increasing popularity of the Streamys. In December Forbes magazine reported the Streamy awards are gaining momentum despite only being around a short time: “In an era where views for events like The Academy Awards dropped 81.2% from 1998 to 2021, this year’s Streamy Awards was the second highest trending video on YouTube, doubled its average view duration from last year, and currently has 2.3 million views and counting.”
Awards shows are opportunities to bridge gaps and bring generations together, celebrating different platforms and mediums. Instead of segregating ourselves to our separate screens, we can, every once in a while, engage in a shared screen and celebration. We can allow these one-night events to be an excuse for us to participate in a communal experience; and we can even be open-minded to the interests of other generations.
Even if our favourite nominees don’t win the Streamy, Oscar, or Canadian Screen Award, maybe we’ll discover something of interest and make note, so that we can take in a viewing together. From classical stories to redeeming narratives and even funny influencers, there is value when one generation takes the time to share their interests with another. This applies not just to film but also to faith. As one psalmist says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
So, let’s roll out the red carpet! Let’s share in the celebration of stories together! For those of us discerning the intersections between God’s truth and cultural narratives, award seasons are the perfect time to create common ground, share our passions, and celebrate together.
Adam Kline is an intercultural engagement team lead and storyteller living in Belleville, Ont.