Awards. I can take them or leave them. Except when it comes to Ryan Gosling being over-looked for a gong for Blue Valentine, which I will always contend was a gross miscarriage of justice.
So, blogging awards shouldn’t really give me jip, especially when I harbour fairly low expectations of my own, which have predictably been borne out by a dwindling readership. I’m reasonably comfortable with being an acquired taste. I can take me or leave me much of the time, too.
But when it comes to organisers of blog awards casually taking or leaving large swathes of bloggers while hogging lofty straplines, it tends to get on my tits.
A quick peer through the history of the Irish Blog Awards shows an evolution of a peer-led rough ‘n’ ready collective cheer-lead into the slick PR company extravaganza it is today. It should be within the fabric of any modern movement to periodically re-invent itself. The corresponding lament for resulting casualties is inevitable, as are the rapid chalk-ups of same to behavior of the strictly churlish and curmudgeonly. The net is buoyed up on simple binary formulae.
Which makes it difficult to call out the insidious dominance of the ‘lifestyle’ ‘category’ as the enemy of good writing. For the second year running, the ‘personal’ category has been jettisoned in favour of this apparently convenient catch-all. Only the catch-all relies heavily on catching as many products as possible: dining, fashion, make-up, cooking. Preferably with photos. The quality of writing appears to be an afterthought, if considered at all. Less in sync with the values of writing than those of glossy publishing and ‘industry experts’. Commonly caught up in their dedication to Selling to The Consumer.
If this reads as an attack on lifestyle blogging, I apologise. It’s not meant as one. Or a suggestion that lifestyle blogging is incompatible with good writing. But rather an unapologetic two-fingers up to the casual and unquestioned flicking aside of bloggers that fail to fit the category however broad the catch-all appears. And the unsubtle expansion of personal blogging into personal PR, an extension of the catalogue industry. Where the anonymous are the creeping social media pariah, the writing scope of females stereotyped to a laughable degree, and blokes don’t stand a chance.
Squeezed from consideration are those who shy away from documenting their forays into personal tastes and tidbits; who care less for current trends and aesthetics than treading thoughts on all manner of topics too thinly spread to qualify them comfortably in other categories. Of the half dozen blogs that spring to mind, none would be eligible for the category criteria. Yet they contain some of the best of Irish writing I have the good fortune to click on. Substance over style. In my opinionated opinion. Perhaps it’s a problem of taste. Or more likely – the taste-makers.
Ireland Blog Awards – ignoring some of the best of Irish Writing.