Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Downside of Award Galas

Hollywood for decades has celebrated itself over and over. There now are close to a dozen major award events for movies, television and the like and many times that for popular music. The folks get all dressed up, sit in some California type room, laud themselves, and get significant media coverage, the ultimate selfies.

Now we see this in Science. The moneyed folk in California, it appears part to "celebrate" themselves, are now hosting an event to award prizes in a similar social environment. This is no Nobel Prize, no King, no tux type attire. It is Hollywood on El Camino.

Nature has an interesting piece on this. They state about the photo:

From left, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna and Cameron Diaz.

Yep, a full fledged Hollywood star, right there in the Valley! You can bet this will continue. Now I can see awards, professional societies give them out all the time. They are "peer" awards. The White House has been getting in the act as well, and of course there is a lot of Hollywood there as well.

Perhaps "Science" should think twice about what could be pure commercialism. The existing structures work quite well, or at least they seem to. Science is unlike Hollywood, usually no agents. But watch out folks, that too may change. Beware the hubris!

But wait! MIT has a Hollywood movie person for Commencement Speaker! Now this you really can't make up. In 1971 at my PhD Commencement I had no idea who spoke. Who cared! But now a Hollywood social advocate!

As MIT says:

This is an exciting choice of speaker,” says Chancellor for Academic Advancement ..., the longstanding chair of MIT’s Commencement Committee. “..... couples a passion for his art with a passion for making the world a better place, much as our students couple a passion for science and technology with a passion to improve the world. I am sure his message will inspire our students to follow that passion and tackle some of the world’s great challenges, such as in water, health, or education.”

How about getting a job, curing cancer, developing new seems this Hollywood thing is getting a bit out of control......