(this post is dedicated to mehmeh)
So another award-giving season is over in Taiwan (though there is still the Golden Horse next month) and what of the results?
I am happy that Bolin Chen won best actor. He deserves it. His role as Daren Ge in In Time With You was the more difficult one. Bolin has always been one of the best young actors in Taiwan and he finally gets recognized officially.
I wasn’t really invested in this year’s Golden Bell and didn’t even know the nominees. All I know is Qiu Ze did not get any nomination for Office Girls, which probably was too fluffy for the judges’ taste. And of course, non-nominees always have to answer questions from the media on how they feel for being overlooked, as if rubbing salt on an open wound.
But do awards really matter?
It would be pretentious to say they don’t. In any industry or line of work, official recognition does matter. But it’s not the only thing that matters. There are several elements too. In journalism, for example, I know of a lot of people who are good in their job but don’t get recognized and will never be in this lifetime. Why? For so many reasons, including the most important one: they don’t write about serious enough things. But they are good at what they do, admired by their peers and have an audience. Another factor is, they don’t market themselves (read: self-promotion) neither do they network. Alas, marketing and networking are two very crucial factors to gain recognition.
It’s the same with the entertainment industry. Or should I say, even more so in the entertainment industry. It’s not enough that you love your work, has a manager or a company to back you up and is good at what you do. You have to be good at promoting yourself too and rub elbows with the right people.
Look at Ethan Ruan. He could have languished forever in support roles if it was not by a stroke of luck he was cast in Fated To Love You. Then again, it could have all stopped there, like many idols who are known for a single work they did and forgotten or mismanaged afterwards. But either he knew how to play his cards well or he was Lady Luck’s favorite boy that period because he got Monga. He won best actor at that year’s Golden Horse and a door opened for him to the movie industry.
An idol cannot stay in television and act in dramas forever. He has to expand. Beyond Taiwan. And that’s what exactly Ethan did. He got the right moves and met the right people. So there he is now, even surpassing the success of his contemporaries and buddies Joe Cheng and Mike He. That’s just how it is.
Mark Chao is another example. He already had one foot inside the business thanks to his dad. But when he debuted in Black & White and defeated Zai Zai as best actor in that year’s Golden Bell, he was suddenly the new ‘it’ boy. Nevermind if his winning was highly controversial and started a series of other controversial wins at the Golden Bell.
Now, on the other side of the balance beam are actors like Joseph Chang. He has been known in the circle as a very good actor and had recently won an award, but his choice of roles has never aligned him with the idols. Even with Drunken To Love You under his belt. It’s not because he is balding and does not have the idol look, it’s just that he belongs to a different category. Yet for sure, he will not run out of jobs not because he has awards but because he is good with whatever role is given to him.
So do awards matter?
As with the Oscars, you also have to launch a good campaign to convince the judges that you deserve an award. And for people to work hard to do that, then yes, awards must really matter. But again, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Of course it adds credibility to one’s body of work and it’s always nice to have it on a resume. It boosts one’s chances but so does hard work, good PR, support of peers and luck. Awards cannot determine one’s success but it can help.
Besides, awards are also given by people who have their biases, preferences and points of view. They are not robots programmed to measure someone’s qualifications through a scientific or mathematical procedure. The judges behind these award-giving bodies have hearts and minds as well as reasons of their own why they give the award to one person and not to the other. Sometimes, we’ll agree with their decision, sometimes not. Just like how I thought Rainie Yang should have been recognized either for Miss No Good or Superstar Express than the overrated, overhyped Hi My Sweetheart. Though I do agree that Mark deserves that award more than Zai Zai. But that’s just me. And I’m not the judge.
On to the next award!
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