Lessons Learned from the Grammys

by Belinda Munoz on February 1, 2010

52nd grammys

I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either. ~ Jack Benny

Seeing all the hoopla surrounding last night’s Grammy Awards reminded me that, a year ago, I was there.  Dear husband produced an album that was nominated for an award.  I was thrilled for him when the news came that they made it on the short list, but it didn’t change how I feel (or how he feels for that matter) regarding awards shows.

Ever the cynic when it comes to glaring glitterati and glamour, it didn’t occur to me to join the fun until I realized my husband might like my company.  And that I might even enjoy it, too.  So, we hopped a plane to Hollywood, put on our grown-up garb, and had ourselves a terrific time.

It was dizzying to be dazzled by all that sizzling talent in the same room.  Each time a favorite came on, I wanted the experience to last just a little longer only to be cut short by someone who’s equally entertaining.  At times, it felt rather like an indulgent seven course meal — too much of a good thing.  I found myself longing for a quiet, unplugged, solo, performance where I would be riveted by the lyrics and music, not by the magnitude of the manufactured momentousness of the evening.

A year later, with all the flash faded and fizzled, I reflect on that night with quizzical fondness.  I’d like to share some of my reflections and lessons I learned from this extraordinary experience:

  • Talent Is Everywhere. Before and during the show, I was struck by the number of people who flew in from every part of the world.  Many of them, in their own way, have reached a level of success by under-the-radar standards.  Many have a lot to offer but are still working on making something happen.  How many of them will stay in the business or will persevere to share their talents is anybody’s guess.
  • It’s All an Illusion. The spectacle seen on TV is a precisely planned production in person.  What the cameras don’t show on screen are the chaos, the tension, the numerous instances of near-miss and the sheer number of hardworking people involved in getting each stage set up just so in a timely manner.  I hoped, often, that the stagehands had insurance as they carried and assembled large pieces of the backdrop merely minutes before they’re used.  Watching it on TV, for me, will never be the same again.
  • Bigger Is Hardly Better. Prior to the show that’s broadcast on mainstream TV, there was another awards ceremony for the less mainstream categories.  This was a much nicer event behind the scenes.  It was intimate, simple, elegant and felt more respectful and humane toward the nominees and the performers.  It reminded me that big, in so many ways, is on its way out.  Quality has an enduring appeal; size does not.
  • To Be a Celebrity Is to Be Objectified. Not that I’d know personally.  However, hearing snippets of (ok, eavesdropping on) people’s conversations that both venerated and vilified the celebrities who stood onstage, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am to be anonymous.  It’s interesting how willingly we use our words when the subject is perceived to be fair game.  I haven’t picked up a People magazine or clicked on TMZ in a very long time, but, I suspect not much has changed.
  • Fame Is a By-product of Something More Substantive. It’s normal to have a visceral reaction to fame, either the basic definition of it or being around the furor that a famous person elicits.  But, call it talent, or luck, or hard work, or enduring perseverance, people whose renown blow out of proportion have something substantive to offer.  Usually.  I’m sure there are exceptions.
  • Awards Ceremonies Are Here to Stay. I suspect that many among us question the validity of awards, let alone glitzy awards shows.  However, any institution that is designed to include an elite few, to entertain the masses, and to entice those outside looking in, wanting to be included, will be around for a long time.  Maybe someday we’ll transcend our appetite for rapacious entertainment, but until then, the Grammy’s will be back next year and the year after, even though many who joined the fun this year won’t be.

Now that I’ve exposed (some of) my issues concerning fame, false idolatry, awards and awards shows, I can’t wait to hear what you think!  Please share your thoughts regarding fame, fortune, celebrity, talent and anything else worth deconstructing.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick February 1, 2010 at 3:18 am

Talent Is Everywhere.. I like that. I think one we realize this, we step into an abundance mindframe and truly embrace life. But also, we realize that we are not special because we have some talent. But in this world, I think we are special if we have discovered it and know how to make the best of it.

Eduard

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2 Jeanne February 1, 2010 at 5:43 am

I’ve never been a fan of award shows, and I smiled at your “how lucky I am to be anonymous” — what an interesting response you had!

I think if I were suddenly “famous” and had to deal with that kind of life, my insides would cringe and go numb and I’d have to run screaming into the woods.. Don’t think I can relate to all the glitz and glamor!

Thanks for sharing and revealing what it’s REALLY like, Belinda. What a unique experience you had, and what great afterthoughts!

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3 BK February 1, 2010 at 7:18 am

I am not a fan of such awards and I have never watched any for a long time; not that I have anything against these award shows. I understand that such award shows are needed to recognize the hard works that people put in. What really caught my attention from what you had shared was ‘It’s All an Illusion.’ I am so used to the ‘show’ that we get to see on TV that I have almost forgotten the team which makes it all possible for the show to run smoothly.

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4 LPC February 1, 2010 at 7:31 am

That talent is real. People who become famous like the Grammy nominees have, for the most part, some real talent. And it does get forgotten in the OMGWHATDIDTHEYDO stuff. It’s nice to sit back, and consider talent.

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5 David - Zen Choices February 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

Thanks for the great insight not just about the Grammy’s, but about the illusion of most events and things that are billed as a “big deal.” This post is a great model for looking to the deeper reality of things and finding a realer more important reality.

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6 Patty - Why Not Start Now? February 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi Belinda – I think it’s worth deconstructing all of those things you mention at the end of your post, particularly celebrity. Why is it that we are so captivated by celebrity? And why is it that so often we confuse celebrity with talent? I think they’re two quite different things, and I’ve known so many talented people in my life who never “made it” by societal standards. It’s interesting to me, because historically artistic celebrity is a rather recent animal; not that long ago (say a few hundred years) artists were more integrated into the fabric of culture. So I think the emphasis on fame/celebrity says a lot about what is in shadow for us, individually and societally. There’s a heck of a lot of projecting going on!

I don’t care for awards shows either, although I think it’s great you got to go to the Grammy’s and take a peak behind the scenes. The only one I watch is the Tony awards, and I admit it, I would love to go to that some day.

Such important questions that you’re considering here, Belinda. And I love that Jack Benny quote!

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7 Sara February 1, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Belinda — I don’t usually watch award shows, but I really enjoyed this post and how you took us back stage. It must have been an amazing experience to watch it come together. In addition, congratulations to your husband for the recognition of his work!

Personally, I think I would have preferred the off TV ceremony that you mentioned. I liked what you said about that, “It reminded me that big, in so many ways, is on its way out. Quality has an enduring appeal; size does not.”

I also liked the idea of “Talent is Everywhere.” As I read this post and others, I think to myself how much talent there is in this world. You are right, “talent is everywhere”:~)

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8 Fr. Michael February 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Belinda,
At first I thought the title of your article was “lessons learned at Granny’s.” I thought it was going to be a sentimental post about lessons learned from your grandmother! Guess I need to read more closely.

I never watch award shows. Maybe I’m being too judgmental, but I find so much of Hollywood glitz to be fake….people pretending to be who they are not. I love visiting California, but I’ve never enjoyed LA. I believe famous people can do much good, but sometimes they affect our culture in such negative ways.

I agree with you about anonymity: a quiet, peaceful life is the way to go.

Peace!

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9 ayo February 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm

hi belinda
i didnt know about the grammys till i watched sky news this afternoon lol!!!! it tells you how current I am with certain events
Anyway, it was an interesting post and i loved the line….’ It reminded me that big, in so many ways, is on its way out. Quality has an enduring appeal; size does not’

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10 Zengirl February 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Belinda,

I have stopped watching those shows a few years ago, though I agree talent is everywhere, it may not be awarded or recognized always though. I did not know your husband was nominated, that is so cool. What type of music he plays/sings? That is so neat! He will be talent in loved ones eye with or without any award that is for sure!!!

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11 Sara February 2, 2010 at 8:56 am

Belinda — I’m BACK:~)

I have a confession to make! You recently visited my site and the post: Picture Story: Picture Play.

I need to clarify something because everyone got confused by the last clue. The place you live in isn’t the object itself, but has the same name. Sorry about the confusion:~( I’m fixing it on the site, but since you’d already visited, it only seemed fair to let you what happened.

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12 JACQUI February 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Fame is not for me – I totally relate to your joy of anonymity. Being the centre of attention in a big crowd sucks big time, as far as I’m concerned.

I admire a lot of genuinely talented famous people – not the type made famous for questionable antics – as I know they do work hard – very hard behind the scenes. They’ve had to put their blood, sweat and tears into their work.

But the whole fame game means very little to me. I’ve known famous people and they’re just people. TV makes them look bigger but they’re still only human. And there are so many great people in everyday life, and in the blogging world too and we mustn’t forget them.

I’m a fan of “The Love Police” and they have a video all about the fame game – it’s comedic and worth watching. http://www.upliftantidote.co.uk/wordpress/2009/12/everything-is-okay-danny-and-charlie-in-fine-form/

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13 Tess The Bold Life February 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I love the fact that there’s another behind the scenes award show going on.

I think you’re correct on everything here but what struck me is bigger isn’t always better like our ego wants us to believe and celebrities are objectified. Think Michael Jackson!

I’ll take anonymity any day as well. I did like Lady Ga Ga and Elton John;)

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14 Brianna February 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I think fame is an interesting thing. I am too under the radar to be famous for anything. I like to keep things simple. I just want a lovely little existence full of love and books and peace. I want to do what makes me happy and find ways to make others happy. I struggle with finding that sometimes, though.

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15 Kelly February 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

I used to be an awards show junkie. But somehow, all the self-congratulatory language that goes on (“what we’re doing is so important so let’s honor ourselves all night”) got to be a bit overbearing. Sure, movies, music, good TV, good Broadway…all very life-affirming, all forms of important art. But sometimes the people behind that art can be a little much to take. Hence, I know tune out. (Unless it’s Steve Martin AND Alec Baldwin hosting the Oscars? I’m so there!)

Confession time. I used to read Perez, Dlisted, TMZ. I haven’t in close to a year. I understood that I was somehow taking pleasure in other people’s misery and contributing in some way to a sickness. Even famous people mess up, but the difference between anonymity and fame is that they mess up on camera. And I feel for them in that regard, greatly.

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