This all started when Eman Suleman withdrew her nomination because she did not want to share the stage with an alleged harasser. Soon after, many others would withdraw from the award show to show solidarity for sexual assault survivors. The people who have joined the boycott are Meesha Shafi, Rubbab Ali, The Sketches, Generation, Saima Bargfrede and Fatima Nasir.
This is not the first time LSA has come under fire for their practices. Lux, for some time has tried to position itself as a reliable indicator of good art within the entertainment and fashion industry in Pakistan. Award shows gain their legitimacy through the perception of how fair they are in judging. However, LSA has come under fire for their lack of fairness within the process of choosing nominations and winners in the past.
The process of choosing the nominations is a little confusing and prone to favoritism. The board chooses a jury of the relevant field and they vote on who gets nominated and wins. In the past, this system has caused problems in the results.
Many worry that in such a interconnect community, it is hard to expect people to be unbiased. People have pointed out the constantly repeat nominations for many favorites, while others get sidelined. This has led many to question the fairness of the awards. How is it fair if the same people keep winning?
LSA has also revised nominations after receiving backlash, making it look like that they do not trust their own system completely. Recent examples include Faysal Quraishi who was belatedly nominated for Bashar Momin (2015) and Ahmed Ali Butt whose request for re-designation as a Best Supporting Actor nominee instead of a Best Actor nominee was honoured (2016). The conversation about nepotism may have started across the bounder, but it has not been addressed here.
Like any televised program, ratings matter. To ensure ratings, programming revolves around more popular artists, like Mahira Khan, rather than the most talented. Red carpet looks and camera reactions concentrate on well-established celebrities and designers, rather than what is actually the best. These behind-the-door deals are pretty common practice in all ceremonies. But they do cause people to question the point of these award shows in the first place.
Many perceive LSA to copy it’s Indian counterpart, the Iifa awards. From the structure of the awards, to how the entertainment should be played out-it all seems a little too familiar. The need to compete and outshine India is getting in the way of actually recognizing and awarding the right talent.
In 2017, while presenting the awards relevant to fashion, Zaheer Abbas, the only male presenter said ‘The women will keep going on and on, so I’ll just announce the winners’. This form of casual sexism showcases how women are seen in the entertainment industry. Given the drama happening right now, this type of programming needs to be revisited.
Their current model indicates that people have to submit their portfolio. However, as Eman Suleman herself has mentioned, she did not send in her work. How do the juries selectively decide who gets the nomination and not?
Why are film and television a popularity competition, while fashion awards are based on “merit”. This type of arbitrary distinction feeds further into the lack of fairness in the system.
While LSA seems to be a glamorous spectacle, there is much going on behind the scenes which is more than questionable. Will LSA move towards a more transparent and bias free model in the future? Only time will tell.