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Flashing Lights and Corruption: The Reality of the Grammys

When you think of the Grammys, chances are that you visualize flashing lights, over-the-top outfits, and your favorite celebrities having the time of their lives on the red carpet. But, are we all failing to see the corruption, sexism, racism and falsity in it all? What’s intended to be a celebration of the arts has turned into a political agenda by Hollywood’s inner circles. They favor those willing to partake in the toxicity of shaking hands to get a trophy, or at least agreeing to ignore it with a smile.

To be clear, not all celebrities apply to these criticisms and many of them deserve their awards and credit for their hard work and talent. However, it’s worth talking about it when it’s noticeably discriminatory time and time again. 

In 2018, the Grammys betrayed the late Mac Miller by having his parents attend the ceremony to accept his award, only to give the award to Cardi B. The lack of sympathy it takes to invite mourning parents to the event while being fully aware that their son wasn’t even going to win the award is something beyond belief. It was seen as an act of disrespect to Miller and his family. His ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande, took to Twitter, calling the situation “literal bulls**t.” And I have to say, I agree with Ariana. As an avid Mac Miller fan, this issue stays close to my heart, and as a Black person, so does the blatant racism that’s prevalent in the Academy.

Zayn Malik was quick to voice his concerns of the racism within the academy, tweeting about “the lack of transparency of the nomination process and the space that creates and allows favoritism, racism, and networking politics to influence the voting process.” It’s become obvious in this decade that there’s a lack of diversity and representation within those in charge of Grammy winners. In 2014, Macklemore won over Kendrick Lamar, and in 2017, Adele won over Beyonce. Though all of these artists are great, it raises some questions when looking at which artist topped the charts that year and why they still lost. Institutionalized racism became obvious when white artists continued to beat artists of color who’ve done significantly better than them, but it becomes more prevalent when looking at the genre grouping of artists. Why is it that when Black artists make unlabeled or experimental albums, they’re still considered rap? Both Tyler, The Creator and Drake have expressed discontent with the racial climate that the Grammys created when they won best rap awards for songs and albums that did not fit in the rap genre. Drake’s “Hotline Bling” won as the best rap song when it was entirely pop, and Tyler’s album Igor won for best rap album, but rap isn’t the right category for it either. 

It doesn’t stop here with the acts of discrimination, though. Sexism has also shown through in the beloved awards show as well. Want to talk about women’s equality? A 2018 study found that only 9.3% of the Grammy nominees are women. In that year, only one woman won a Grammy. It seems like we’ll never learn, since women still don’t get the recognition they deserve.

With all of this, many big artists have spoken out against the Grammys and decided to boycott the show. I must say, The Weeknd was one of the most surprising, as he was this year’s Super Bowl Halftime performer, but didn’t get nominated for a single award. He did one of the most iconic halftime show performances, so not being nominated or winning an award should raise some red flags. In response, The Weeknd promised to no longer send in his music to be considered for a Grammy. Wiz Khalifa soon backed the singer tweeting ”…it’s politics, if you don’t show up to their parties they don’t throw your name around.” Halsey took to Instagram, ranting about a lack of transparency and the process of winning a Grammy, which was said to include bribery and “the right handshakes.”  

What we see as a glamorous night for our favorite people continuously proves to be so much more than that. Behind the flashing lights, there remain institutionalized problems backed by those with an agenda for money and favoritism that needs to be reformed. 

Abbi Donaldson is a Class of 2024 student of University of Central Florida majoring in Advertising/Public Relations. She loves writing poetry and music as well as reading. She's passionate about politics, music and fitness and hopes to use her love for writing to further her career.
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