#BritsSoWhite? More like Brits so boring

In the absence of any proper news (bar the most astonishing US election result in living memory) everyone will surely be aware that the Brit Awards has announced that it’s changing its voting system.

‘What can they possibly have done to liven up our pitiful answer to the Grammys?’, I hear you cry. Perhaps awarding more marks for originality? Automatically disqualifying anyone who has ever appeared on reality TV? Ensuring no vacuous platitudes are expounded from the acceptance podium? Introducing a country category, or perhaps jazz?

Of course not. After the #BritsSoWhite Twitterstorm last year, in which the awards were accused of being racially homogenous, the organisers have made ‘diversity’ their top concern, and have put more women and ethnic minorities on the voting panel.

This of course follows the #OscarsSoWhite Twitterstorm last year, where tweeters and social activists were annoyed at the lack of black people nominated by the Academy. Actors were vocally disapproving about the lack of diversity, but, funnily enough, none of the nominees went so far as to suggest that a black actor was more deserving than they were.

Similarly, at the Brits, while everyone agreed it was appalling how few minority nominees there were, it never occurred to anyone to suggest that any of the awards should be given to anyone other than Adele.

But don’t fret: 2017, we’re told, will be different. This time, the panel will be 48 per cent female (the Brits already has female and male artist categories, so I really don’t see what this is supposed to achieve) and the proportion of minority members has risen from 15 to 17 per cent. All of this has happened simply because a chap called Stormzy was irked by the lack of appreciation sent his way last year.

The Brits are awards for popular music, and are basically given to whoever has the most industry money behind them. This is because record companies want to flog albums to the only demographic that continues to buy such things: middle-aged, middle-class people who haven’t yet worked out how to make a playlist. That’s why Adele and Coldplay are continuously picked, it’s also why the sodding thing is presented by Ant and Dec.

Promoting people solely on the basis of their race, gender or sexuality is insulting. Let people win on their own merit – or at least that of their PR department.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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