by Jen Graves
on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 1:01 PM
A recurring topic of conversation Saturday night at the Moore (party pics) was the way this year's Genius Awards were being given out—Academy Award-style, with the winners selected in a surprise announcement from the stage while the other nominees squirmed and fidgeted and general awkwardness ensued.
"It's awful!" one former Genius winner told me.
Yes, there was awkwardness for both winners and non-winning finalists. (LIFE IS STRESSFUL.)
But look: In years past, we've announced the winners weeks ahead of time, then published shortlists in the paper on the week of the party. This creates a situation in which absolutely nobody remembers who the shortlisters were. There's been no glory in it. And being shortlisted for Genius has never changed anybody's life.
But being a finalist has.
I wasn't sure where I fell on this whole issue until Amanda Manitach told me last week, "This nomination literally changed my life. No, really." She had been planning, for financial reasons, to stop being an artist. She was going through some changes in her personal life, and they meant that she had to entirely support herself. When the announcement hit, she figured she'd "keep up appearances" as a serious artist until after the ceremony, thinking she wouldn't win, anyway.
But the attention of the nomination itself sent commissions and collectors her way. And for the first time, she has made her living on her art for these last months.
So while I realize it's not easy being a finalist—and I also dislike anything that smacks of similarity with the dimwitted, shittily selected, utterly meaningless Academy Awards—I say: Let's do it again like this next year.
Because triple the people get the glory, even though not everybody goes home with the cash.