JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE UPCOMING PULITZER PRIZES AND THE GENERAL FOOLISHNESS OF PRIZES   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DANIEL FINKELSTEIN IN THE TIMES

Prizes generally are foolish business.

Even the most prestigious – the Nobel – often gets it wrong. Just look at the winners in literature. The authors loved and read often are not on the list. Those on the list include those few read. In science even we find things like Einstein having won for one of his lesser contributions, not relativity.

The Peace Prize is compromised beyond meaning with several leaders whose hands are very bloody receiving it, all in the hope one presumes of influencing the course of events.

The Academy Award is just silliness, although people like it for exactly that reason. Goofy gowns, goofier speeches, and Fred Astaire glitter.

Some terrible films have won. Just recall Liz Taylor in Butterfield 8, an unwatchable, bad movie, even in its day. And then there are the fad films – Dances with Wolves – which are heaped with prizes despite being good but not original work.

The Pulitzer is the most hopeless prize of all. It has not only got it wrong many times, it has been hopelessly compromised by crooked journalists and crooked newspapers. A New York Times correspondent in Russia in the early part of the century we now know won for totally created material. And there have been more scandalous examples in recent decades. The prize has a flag-waving agenda that has nothing to do with quality or ideas or even journalism.

Just consider the oleaginous laureate Thomas Friedman, a man whose job is to rewrite Pentagon material and other imperial propaganda into chirpy copy.

With history books, it has often missed great books while giving awards to second-rate or boring work.

Just consider the odd idea that there must be a best each year in anything. It just isn’t so. Creativity and genius don’t follow clocks or calendars.

Science for example progresses steadily but often with spectacular work only coming after years or decades.

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