As someone who has been working very hard for four years to try and bring credibility to web video, I’m extremely disappointed in what I saw on the Streamy Awards Sunday night.
The Streamy Awards which is run by the newly formed International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV) touts itself as the “…most prestigious awards ceremony devoted to honoring excellence in original web television programming and those who create it.” That’s what it says on their website and that’s what everyone was expecting during the months of publicity that led up to the award show streamed live on the internet on April 11. What we actually saw during the award presentation itself however was a different matter.
The tone of the entire ceremony was crude, vulgar, superficial, and unprofessional. There were multiple masturbation jokes in the host’s monologue, a scripted bit with an actor playing a vulgar porn producer that goes on and on and on, presenters in nothing but underwear, not to mention unplanned events like two male streakers and people rushing the stage to molest the presenters.
@streamyawards This is insulting & not funny. Gay jokes & dick jokes are not funny when Vanity Fair called you the Oscars of the internet.
— @Destini41 Destini
Sorry to any of our fans who watched and were offended by the raunchiness at the Streamys.The tone of humor was not honoring the evening IMO
— @feliciaday Felicia Day
There was a point in the show that I was like “Is this really happening?” I can’t even imagine how the brands and sponsors felt being a big part of the event. This is one of the biggest hurdles in online video is getting brands to trust the content they are advertising against. Now, they can’t even trust a show ABOUT online video!
Worse, the bulk of the prepared jokes played off the stereotype of Elitist Hollywood v. Web Show Wanabe. From the host’s introductory monologue:
Tonight we have 35 awards to give out but let’s not forget the real winners, the 4 people who actually made money on the internet.
One or two of these types of jokes would be OK but it really seemed like this was the theme of the evening. You can’t make money on the internet (not true, we do, and so do others) and nobody watches shows on the web (also not true. We’ve had a thriving and growing community watching our show for years.)
About a third of the way through there was a pre-recorded “man on the street” video that I found particularly insulting. The host repeatedly asked random people on the street what their favorite web show was. Of course no one they asked even knew such a thing existed, leaving the impression that the industry is a complete joke. This meme went on and on through the evening…
My biggest personal issue with the show was that it disrespected the professional industry that I (and many others) have been working so hard to build over the past 5 years. The constant jokes about lack of funding in web series, lack of viewers, etc. cheapened our hard work, especially when a lot of the attendees ARE making money and have more viewers (and less publicists) than cable television shows.
— Casey McKinnon
All of the technical problems were one thing but it seemed like the jokes were picking on the internet – not CELEBRATING what we do.
— @buckhollywood Michael Buckley
The @streamyawards were a complete joke. I felt so bad for the people who make their living from the internet, to be ridiculed all evening.
— @ConwayJamie Jamie Conway
To be fair, there were a few very positive moments, mostly by the award recipients themselves, like the Auto-Tune the News gang who sang their acceptance speech in four part harmony. Amazing. Or Felicia Day who, in spite of having to take the stage only moments after what happened in the picture above, managed to deliver an extremely uplifting, generous, and authentic acceptance speech. Very classy.
The Streamy’s could have been about the pioneering spirit of the creators, the excitement of doing something different, the possibilities of the future, but no. Instead it was about snarky, crude, superficial, mean spirited jokes. They spent the evening making fun of what I’ve been successfully doing for the last four years of my life. In short the newly minted IAWTV has brought the absolute worst of stereotypical Hollywood snobbery to my industry and frankly I resent it.
Telling a thousand people that their jobs, content, livelihoods, and dreams are a joke, and that the only way they’ll amount to anything is to beg their “betters” (read: “celebrities,” but the unstated implication was made very clear) to slum it in their crappy webseries…well, that’s not gonna go over well. Repeatedly joking that it’s subpar quality, or that there’s no money, future, or reason to get involved only hurts us all.
— Barrett Garese
I can’t fathom what the producers of the show were thinking during the months preparing for this broadcast. How could they get it so wrong, insult their own membership, and frankly tarnish their own brand on purpose like this. The producers have posted an apology and have promised to do better next year. Fine… I don’t think simply trying harder is going to resolve the issue though. The problem goes to the basic core values of the IAWTV. What kind of organization do they want to be? Do they represent all types of web video? …or only those that try to mimic broadcast television? Do they truly support all web video creators? …or are they only interested in getting the attention of a few large studios? Are they going to be inclusive and truly international as their name suggests? …or only cater to the worst superficial stereotype of LA based “Hollywood.” Time will tell…