CLAD in a figure-hugging, gold evening dress, Ayda Jebat hypnotically informs viewers about the benefits of Aurawhite, backed by seductive, home-shopping jazz.
It’s a cold, metallic experience recurring much throughout Anugerah MeleTop ERA (AME), exposing the overwhelming presence of whitening products on local television.
Thanks to omnipresent rival Qu Puteh, Aurawhite as sponsors of MeleTop and ERA FM‘s audience-choice awards show knew exactly how much Astro Ria was willing to cooperate.
Not content with traditional means of advertising, they’ve sent their product ambassador in that same, gold evening dress to AME to ham it up for the cameras. But to be safe, they’ve also made sure their ads played at least thrice during breaks.
The “anu” in “anugerah”
In its third year, Astro’s awards ceremony remains a rushed advertising platform with little respect for the entertainment industry.
Broadcast live on Astro Ria, AME always had one important rule. Winners are generally given no more than five words for their thank you speeches.
Till today, it remains a surprisingly ill-informed move — audiences, relatively sparse for an awards show on a major network, booed organisers at one point for vocodering the voices of winners exhausting their word limit.
Winners would eventually have their microphones muted after five words, but by then it became clear this is less an exercise in honouring the creative industry and more of an opportunity to promote available products.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that this edition had four hosts — Nabil Ahmad, AC Mizal, Jihan Muse, and Neelofa. All struggled to focus on the task at hand.
Some fought for attention against self-indulgent counterparts, while most were merely chasing attention and cheap laughs. In pursuit of tricks to keep audiences distracted, AC Mizal seemed to have more control than anybody else over the night’s proceedings.
Award presenters too shamelessly promoted personal agendas instead of acknowledging the industry or AME’s award categories.
Shaheizy Sam, notorious for promoting Polis Evo before presenting Lim Sai Peng‘s best actor trophy at Festival Filem Malaysia, this time plugged a new television series during his appearance with Zizan Razak.
Juxtaposed against the cruel treatment of its winners, these were choices which displayed low regard for those who continue building our industry.
A unique, KPI-driven experience
As a result of noisy, drawn-out chatter and loud personalities, AME barely kept form throughout its 150 minutes on the screen. Lacking in direction and technical competency (issues with sound mixing further led to underwhelming entrances), there was something rather insincere about the entire thing.
A considerable chunk was dedicated to Astro Shaw‘s Olabola. A documentary segment featuring veteran sports commentator Zulkarnain Hassan aired for a good amount of time, interspersed with clips of the original winning goal which inspired the movie.
Then out of nowhere the elderly Zulkarnain gets wheeled onstage. Rahim Razali proceeded to hand him a precarious looking trophy, a mock cheque his size, and a framed jersey, all under glaring light.
There must have been a more respectable way to present his lifetime achievement award. But perhaps most pressingly, did Astro stop to think for a moment about how they come across after all is done and dusted?
Its sponsor’s highly-visible product ambassador bagged the biggest awards, Polis Evo took home best film, and they found a way to shoehorn Ola Bola into the ceremony.
By the time Ayda Jebat goes up to receive the show’s penultimate award, Astro Ria’s quality control, ethics, and possibly even integrity come into question.
For an awards ceremony, Anugerah MeleTop ERA 2016 failed to commemorate local talent, serving instead as a large-scale publicity platform. As much as it wants to masquerade as a “fun” and “entertaining” celebration of Malay-language content, it appears shockingly disingenuous.
At the end of the night, AME takes its viewers and participants for granted, too consumed with product placement and publicity. Bagai kacang lupakan kulit, it has forgotten the very excuse it utilised in order to exist.
But don’t get us mistaken: there’s absolutely no reason for Astro to stop with this sort of badly-executed programming if people continue allowing themselves and their craft to be made fools of in front of the nation.
For as long as there’s enough cooperation from the industry, the numbers will continue to feed from the trough, regardless of what’s on the menu.
What do you think?
Anugerah MeleTop ERA aired on Astro Ria last Sunday, 28 February 2016. Follow the ceremony on Facebook for more information, but take note that the page has not been updated for more than a year.