Saturday, August 20, 2005

Causes and Effect(ive) Awards

It seems like there is an organization that confers awards to TV shows for every cause. Of course, organizations promote human equality (race, gender, sexual orientation, capability). But what about other causes? Here's a sample.

  • The Humanitas Prize for "stories that affirm the dignity of the human person, probe the meaning of life, and enlighten the use of human freedom."

  • The Humane Society confers Genesis Awards to shows that "raise the public understanding of animal issues."

  • The Environmental Media Association's EMA Award for shows that "increase public awareness of environmental problems and inspire personal action on these problems."

  • PRISM Awards that "recognize the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use within entertainment programming."

  • The American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award for shows that "foster the American public's understanding of the law and the legal system."

  • Cable Positive's POP Award to raise HIV/AIDS awareness.

  • The International Society for Excellence in Christian Film & Television recognizes shows that "portray Christians and Christian values in a positive light."

  • The EDGE Award (Entertainment Depiction of Gun Education Award) honors shows that "effectively promote firearm safety and discourage gun violence."

  • Planned Parenthood confers the Maggie Award to "recognize the year's out-standing media coverage of sexuality education, contraception, abortion rights, sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive health issues."

  • The National Council on Crime and Delinquency confers the PASS Award to shows that depict "stories about people and programs that promise to protect children against neglect and abuse, and against involvement in crime."

  • The SHINE (Sexual Health IN Entertainment) Award from the Media Project.

  • And that's just the beginning. There are more.

    But what about the cause to recognize (and reward) popular culture for promoting literacy and awareness of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? The Sloan Foundation has a low-profile program. And the American Film Institute is working with the Air Force and the Army Research Office to train scientists to be screenwriters, as reported here.

    And that's as much as I can find.

    Isn't it time for some organization to step it up and do something higher profile? Shouldn't the community take the EMA's lead and work with shows to promote minor story lines and act as a consulting resource for larger stories? "Numb3rs" works with Caltech experts to make sure that the mathematics is correct, but only because the producers really wanted to go the extra yard. All on their own. And only because they identified accuracy as one of their main objectives.

    Maybe the organization should initially take advantage of the two main human motivators: fear and greed. Confer high-profile dishonors to shows that present STEM inaccuracies. Reward producers with a high-profile award, as well as a cash prize, for accurately portraying STEM.

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