It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

8 March 2010 at 10:24 am 6 comments

| Peter Klein |

Many are enjoying the irony of Sandra Bullock winning a best-actress Oscar (for The Blind Side) and a worst-actress Razzie (for All About Steve) in the same year. It made me think of Robert Hodgson’s recent paper in the Journal of Wine Economics, noting that wines winning awards in a particular competition are no more likely to win awards in other competitions. “An analysis of the number of Gold medals received in multiple competitions indicates that the probability of winning a Gold medal at one competition is stochastically independent of the probability of receiving a Gold at another competition, indicating that winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone.” Perhaps acting awards work the same way?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gabrielrossman  |  8 March 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I think it’s more subtle than to say it’s all random noise. Economy of Prestige by James English is probably the single best work on these kinds of issues in cultural awards. In it he has a fair amount of material on negative prizes, including the Razzies. He addresses your specific issue on pages 100-101:
    “Among the roughly twenty-five actors, actresses, and directors nominated for Razzies each year, there are on average three former Oscar nominees or Oscar winners: notably Faye Dunaway …; Kevin Costner …. Even in these cases, the Golden Raspberry Foundation is not really at odds with the Motion Picture Academy, since the specific films and performances honored with Oscars are not those dishonored with Razzies … And most Razzie winners are well off the map of Oscar territory, nearly half of them being outsider or novelty performers … Such figures combine a very high public profile — assuring publicity for the Razzies — with rather low standing in Hollywood — assuring that the annual mockery of stars does not actually contest the established hierarchy of the star system. On balance, you could say that the Razzies serve as a negative expression of the cinematic taste whose positive expression is the Oscars.”

    My undergrad lecture on Wednesday will be about cultural consecration and have a lot on awards. I’ll be putting a link to the MP3 on my blog.

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  8 March 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Gabriel, look forward to hearing your lecture.

    In the wine case, too, I wonder if across-bottle, within wine variation explains some of the findings.

  • 3. mtkennedy  |  8 March 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Peter –
    Unless I’m missing something, it should matter that the observations here are actor-performance observations. If we find instances where the same observation is getting awards for being the best and worst, then I’d be a little more inclined to entertain your random speculation. Otherwise, I’d say acting awards appear not to work the same way, and with good reason. Contests for wines are usually based on blind taste test evaluations of experts working individually without consulting each other. If there is a distinction give where the judges (and press) do more talking (and gossiping) about how they will vote, I’m not sure what it would be (except for perhaps a US presidential election! With the academy awards, we don’t know whether that process leads to convergence (it doesn’t in politics), but at least all the talking provides a mechanism for it that should eliminate the noise seen in wine prizes.

    Especially since there are a bunch of people in org theory doing work with wine data, it is important to consider how contest features lead to noise or convergence. Interesting stuff!

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  8 March 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t think you’ve missed a thing. :) I’d just emphasize that the actor-performance observation is presumably correlated with some underlying actor ability parameter, suggesting that Oscar-worthy Razzy winners are not paying enough attention to role selection!

  • 5. mtkennedy  |  8 March 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Sounds about right to me!

  • 6. gabrielrossman  |  10 March 2010 at 5:22 pm

    as promised, here’s the MP3 of my cultural consecration lecture

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