Argument for awards
It's always exciting every year in October when the Nobel Prizes are announced. We get to witness the acknowledgement of some of humankind's greatest minds in six fields, literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and activism for peace.
每年10月诺贝尔奖揭晓之际都总是令人激动。我们能够见证六大领域 —— 文学、医学和生理学、物理学、化学、经济学以及和平活动的杰出人物获奖。
This year, however, part of the excitement will be taken away, since there won't be a Nobel Prize in literature due to the fact that the Swedish Academy, the institution that awards the prize, was involved in a sexual harassment scandal.
People worry that a scandal like this will affect the reputation of the Nobel Prizes. But at the same time, we have to ask ourselves whether we really need these awards after all.
According to Jana Gallus, an economist from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, one of the reasons that people give out awards is to establish a legacy. In the case of the Nobel Prizes, they encourage people to achieve more by acknowledging the hard work of top figures in different fields.
Awards may also help establish standards of what's considered high quality. For example, if you're having a hard time deciding which movie to watch, one of them having an Oscar under its belt will probably help you to make your mind up. And by reading the books that have won The Man Booker Prize or listening to songs that have been awarded a Grammy, you get an idea about what “great” literature and music look and sound like – at least in the eyes of judging panels.
Sure, awards can backfire. There was the "Oscars So White movement" in 2015 and 2016, when it turned out that all 20 actors nominated for two years in a row were white. There was also the "Grammys So Male" movement in January, when Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a solo Grammy this year. But still, it was these incidents that brought the problems of racism and gender inequality into the public eye once more. And with influential voices, like that of black actor Will Smith, who refused to attend the Oscars ceremony, the problems became more likely to be noticed and dealt with instead of being buried silently, again.
Maybe these awards do matter, and we do need them, just not while they are under the shadow of a sexual harassment scandal.
So when it comes to this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, I'm going to have to say: "No, thanks."