How popularity trumps talent in most ‘contests’ nowadays

Popularity contests seem to have taken a new turn in the last decade. It has become literally, just about being “liked”. Forget about working on your talent or congeniality. Joining a contest takes less effort than that. If you have no problem with shameless self-promotion, you can win just about anything.

Gone are the days when one wins a contest fair and square on the basis of merit. Nowadays, you need to gather everyone you know and everyone you don’t know to vote for you in order to win. The winner gets to be decided on the basis of the number of “likes” received on social networking sites. It doesn’t really matter if you are the prettiest or the most talented contestant, if you don’t have the numbers to back you up, you lose. And here I was thinking that political elections are the only thing that got automated. Apparently, the judges in most other contests have all become automated too. It looks like the new generation has lost their ability to stand by their decision.

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Take beauty pageants for instance. The contest is already in itself a superficial exercise, catering to man’s primal instincts. But the advent of social networking sites has taken the activity to a new level of shallowness. Contestants of local pageants are now being asked to spam forums to solicit votes from members. Whatever opinion I have about beauty contests, I still think that it would be a shame if a deserving contestant lost just because she didn’t get the right amount of “likes” from Facebook. Not fair at all.

On national television, those who have the best voice can sing their hearts out; those who are overweight can lose all the kilos they want and those “masterchefs” can cook the best dishes of the lot. But at the end of the day, the one who gets to win is the one with the most number of audience votes.

These days it is harder to pick out the Elton Johns from the sea of manufactured “talents”. Someone did say that it does not matter how you make it but what matters is what you do after you make it. In other words, we all have to start somewhere but what separates those with real talent from the wannabes is the ability to sustain the audience’s interest. Unfortunately, judging by the number of “idols” who come and go every year, it seems like it is easy come, easy go.

Now where can we find the next Andy Warhol whose popularity can last for more than 15 minutes?

13 Replies to “How popularity trumps talent in most ‘contests’ nowadays”

      1. Here’s something that I’m rooting for and perhaps it would be fun to try it amongst ourselves.

        A better approach to blogging contests, I guess would be to do it this way:

        – Have all the nominees or contestants start off with a new blog under a pseudonym. Bloggers joining the contest may not divulge their blog’s name or their pseudonym. The bloggers will have to write original content that has never been published in their blog or column before.

        -Bloggers may not use their real social media accounts to promote their blog or blog’s content. The Bloggers may not promote each other’s blogs and they will not be known to one another.

        -The judges will not know who the bloggers are and the bloggers will not know who the judges are.

        -The bloggers will be given 3 to 6 months to develop the blog in terms of PageRank, Backlinks, sharing statistics, visits, and other parameters that can be measured using Alexa, Google Analytics, or any credible website analysis tool.

        -The bloggers will be rated for content, which should include an appraisal of their knowledge of the subject matter as well as their grammar. They will also be appraised for critical thinking by being assigned to blog on topics that will be assigned to them.

        -Bloggers will also be assigned topics that are out of their usual range of topics to see how fast and how well they can learn a new subject matter.

        -Bloggers will also be assigned to cover live developing events and subjected to situations where their ethics will be challenged.

        -Their ability to influence online discussions should be measured using specifically designed parameters such as attribution or citation by relevant authorities on the subject matter, relevant context for anchor text/back links, and other such parameters that may be devised. The Holy Grail, perhaps, would be to induce a real world event or development.

        -They will also be rated by how well they can configure the blog’s platform so that it conforms to relevant website standards.

        -The bloggers can gain an award for platform design and configuration.

        1. There would be no chance of rigging that one, for sure. 😉

          Seriously, most of us are already doing what’s on your list. But it would be too hard for the average schmoe to comprehend.

  1. ah well, whatever brings in the ratings…
    nothing like a little “audience participation” to hook in more viewers. it makes people feel, umm… “empowered”.

    @PFarol – all you need is a little media stunt to turn you into tomorrow’s trending topic, and next thing you know, you’ll be in next year’s running 🙂 I’ll vote for you if you get in the running.

    1. ah well, whatever brings in the ratings…
      nothing like a little “audience participation” to hook in more viewers. it makes people feel, umm… “empowered”.

      I guess it’s a win-win for the parties involved if you put it that way. But have you noticed how the audience doesn’t gain anything after the series ends for most reality shows? It’ s mind numbing, really. Of course nobody cares.

  2. I used to think it would be cool to win a Blog Award, but then I realized I cared more about my stats and the quality of my back links.

    Also, you can see all the credit grabbing that goes around when it comes to “who started this trending topic” or online outrage. It’s kinda sickening.

    1. Actually, this “blog awards” scene is starting to look like a microcosm of Pinoy society — a small clique of mutual-backpatters congregating around an award body that rewards on the basis of votes. 😀

    2. I can imagine how bitchy it can get. I stay as far away as possible from that kind of scene.

      I can’t understand why some would want to be popular anyway. Once you become popular, people will have higher expectation of you. Who needs that? I love obscurity. 😉

  3. oh be still my heart… celdran isn’t the ultimate ballbuster after all, Lea Salonga got the win. How’s that for a plot twist?

    Careful guys, dont want to appear like you’re sour-graping in front your faithful readers, would you? 😛
    Stay classy, we still love you, prize or no prize.

    But back to topic, there was an article I read a few months back about the current social relevance of the various award shows for music – the Billboard awards, MTV awards, Grammies… they each have their own distinct criteria – some base it on sales figures, airtime play, number of requests, popular choice, by open voting, voting by peers, voting by judges… and right now, its the Billboard award (their criteria is most figure-based of all the award-giving bodies) that’s getting the lowest buzz.

    1. Lea deserves to win. She hasn’t won any awards yet. She really needs this badly. This award will make her feel like she has truly made it!!!

      LOL 😉

        1. Haha…I heard that while most of the nominees engaged in shameless self-promotion the minute they got nominated, Miss Saigon didn’t even need to do anything in order to win. The rest of the nominees didn’t need to lose the contest to look like a loser 😉

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