The world was abuzz with the news that Bob Dylan had won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Dylan himself felt… er… well, we didn’t quite know what he felt because he wouldn’t return their calls. Finally he did acknowledge it (barely: someone literally just added the words “winner of the Nobel prize in literature” to a page on his website) and now even that’s been removed.
And I’ll just say it: This is awesome.
In general, awards for artists are dumb. Did Martin Scorsese finally become a great director when he won an Oscar for The Departed? (I can think of at least 10 films he’s made more influential and just plain better than that one—hell, The Departed isn’t even as good as Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong flick on which it’s based.)
Martin Scorsese didn’t need an Oscar to affirm his artistic credentials; the Academy needed to give him one already to prove they weren’t morons.
Should have seen this coming, Nobel people—maybe it’ll go better when you sweeten the deal by also giving him the awards for Peace and Physics in 2017.
Furthermore, arts aren’t like sports—it’s fun to argue whether Steph is better than LeBron or vice versa because they can meet in the NBA Finals and LeBron can provide a painfully clear answer to that question.
Analytics has yet to determine who has the edge in the matchup of Philip Roth vs. Jonathan Franzen… and frankly, who the fuck are critics or awards voters or anyone else to pretend they deserve to make these absurdly high-level judgments? (Though for the record, I go Roth.)
That said, I do think awards in the arts can do two useful things:1. They can bring attention to underappreciated artists.2. They can bring financial support to artists who might otherwise be unable to devote themselves to their craft.
A Nobel Prize, with its roughly $1 million payday and international recognition, can change the life of a talented relative unknown forever.
Bob Dylan is one of the most famous people on Earth, with a net worth estimated at between $80 and $180 million.
Clearly, this honor shall alter his life dramatically.
Bob Dylan has always done things the way he perceived that they should be done, whether angering fans by going electric or deciding he wanted to make a slapstick comedy on HBO (really), somehow convincing the network to say yes, and then, before he and the rest of the project team could even get on the elevator after the meeting, deciding he didn’t want to do it any more. (Again, really.)
In other words: Should have seen this coming, Nobel people—maybe it’ll go better when you sweeten the deal by also giving him the awards for Peace and Physics in 2017.
Below, watch a brief excerpt of Dylan’s legendarily so-awkward-it’s-endearing interview with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes and be reminded this man does things on his own terms or he won’t do them at all.