Although it's going to take me forever to get through the academic prose of James F. English's The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards and the Circulation of Cultural Value (Harvard, 2006), it has some heady arguments that I'm enjoying engagement with. One of English's key points, for example, is that "modern cultural prizes cannot fulfill their social obligations unless authoritative people--people whose cultural authority is secured in part through these very prizes--are thundering against them." A delicious paradox that both makes me feel a lot better for disliking Harry Potter, and consoles me for last night's loss for "Goodnight and Good Luck," I mean, "Brokeback Mountain."
But. But. Listen to English on the Adult Video News Awards, an award program for porn, with such categories as "Best Anal Sex Scene." In considering the financial impact of the AVNs and other porn awards, English writes, "purchasers of porn videos tend to be drawn with particular force toward award-winning titles. There are few fields of cultural consumption (children's literature is one) in which prizes have a more direct and powerful effect on sales." Mercy!