Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Animal Beatbox YouTube controversy shows Tropfest has had its day

I went to Tropfest a few years ago. It had a certain charm about it. But I thought then that the whole thing was a bit overrated. The night I was there the best entertainment was not found on the screen, but in the audience. So, I was never much of a fan.

Now, after the controversy over this year's Tropfest, I think even less of it. From the clips included in this article, claims that the winner, a stop motion animation called Animal Beatbox, is a rip-off do seem justified. But even if they're not, the advent of YouTube and other sites like it seem to have made the whole concept of such an award for new filmmakers pretty much irrelevant.

Defending the winner, Mr Polson said in a statement: "It doesn't surprise me there are other clips combining animals and music. It wouldn't surprise me, either, if there were similar clips for every one of the finalist films."

"Comparisons are easy to draw with the explosion of footage on the internet, accessible by fingertips worldwide.

"10 years ago this wouldn't be an issue, but with literally millions and millions of clips available now, it's not very difficult to find just about anything."

Exactly. So why even have such a competition? I mean, the whole point of awarding a prize is to say: experts agree, this is the best of the bunch. The official recognition is meant to establish that the work's creator is unarguably superior to other filmmakers, and thereby hopefully propel his career to greater heights. It's meant to be a leg-up for the truly talented and deserving.  

But Polson pretty much admits that the prize has no meaning. Brilliant, inventive stuff is made, and viewed, by countless people all over the world every day of the week. 

So what does the award say about the winner? Not much, except that he's good at getting awards. And is that something you should be, er, awarded for?

Tropfest is clearly past its use-by date. They should just can it.

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