Prize Portents

“In the fields of literature, movies and music, prize scandals prompt people to pay attention to awards, if only to see what gauche lapse in taste happens next. And debates about the credibility of a prize, by their very existence, benefit the concept of art and artistic value by implying that they exist in a realm separate from politics and compromise. Clearly, questions about prizes’ credibility haven’t hampered their proliferation: ours is a culture beset by and obsessed with prizes, even if we disagree about their meaning. So what do they mean?”