I confess, I didn't watch the Grammys on Sunday, but I didn't really need to. Online recaps have provided all the highlights I need to know: Arcade Fire wins, Gaga entered in an egg (of course.) and Justin Bieber, Prince of Swagger, lost out to the lesser-known Esperanza Spalding.
Injustice for beloved Biebs? Nah, says The Atlantic. The swoop-haired singer didn't take home a Best New Artist award because the Grammys favors the girls. "Consider: In the last 41 years, a female solo artist has won Best New Artist 24 times, the vast majority of them attractive and pliable young stars well-tutored in industry games. Several more were bands fronted by a woman singer." How many Bieber-esque solo males have taken home that gold award over that same time period? Only four.
Granted, the Best New Artist award doesn't necessarily portend a long-term successful career for all of these songstresses. Remember 1998 Best New Artist Paula "Dawson's Creek" Cole? Or how about 2004's winner Evanescence?
While the music industry is notoriously hard for women to break into, it can also be incredibly generous to female solo pop artists who make it to the top -- at least monetarily. According to Forbes rankings, 6 out of 10 of entertainment's highest-earning women are in the music business. Unless you consider former 'American Idol' host Simon Cowell to be part of the music industry, no musicians made the Forbes top 10 list of male entertainers.
Now, if a guy in entertainment wants to take home a gold award these days, he should probably turn to acting. Whereas the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that hands out the Grammy Awards is ever so kind to the ladies, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that doles out the Oscars tends to favor the gents. Yes, there are separate male and female actor categories, but if you look at the gender breakdown of casts that garner the most nominations, the ensembles skew male. From the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (yes, you read that correctly): "...nearly three fourths (72.7%, n=4,968) of the characters in nominated best picture films were males." Blam-o!
But does bean counting like this even amount to a hill of beans if you don't take into account how the entertainment industry as a whole manufactures and presents for public consumption male and female performers? Is Justin Bieber weeping over the gender injustice of the Grammy Awards and considering starting his own think tank? Oh, how I wish. The Bieber Institute on Gender in Music does have a nice a ring to it, don't you think?