I want to start off this post with a few warnings: 1) it is very long. 2) I am in no way speaking for Tubefilter as a whole but in my own words in an attempt to offer a fair and balanced critique of all that occurred at the 2nd Annual Streamy Awards. I just have the unique benefit of being able to do it as a member of the Tubefilter staff as well as a member of the IAWTV, as someone who has attended both iterations of the Streamy Awards thus far, and as someone who is a creator, producer, and just general fan of all things New Media. For official comments from Streamy executive producer and Tubefilter CEO Brady Brim-Deforest, please read Liz Miller’s comprehensive piece at NewTeeVee.
Knowing I needed to cover the Awards ceremony, I struggled with a fair way to put a voice to so many of the concerns, disappointments, confusion, wonderment, and all the other array of emotions a lot of us were feeling, whether we watched the ceremony live or from various places across the world via the livestream or iPhone application. So I came to the decision that the best thing to do would be for the community to speak for itself. And so I reached out and invited people via e-mail and Twitter to provide me with feedback as well as researching blogs that were commenting on the evening’s events.
The response was immediate and varied but in general, the concerns seemed to sum up to four key issues: 1) Technical issues 2) Content issues 3) The level of self-deprecation presented and 4) Concerns about effects on New Media as a whole. I’ll begin by sharing a few words from the personal blog of Barrett Garese, Founder of Spytap Industries: “This will be a hard entry to write, as I’m friends or friendly with many of those involved with The Streamy Awards. I feel that in light of last night, it’s important enough to not pull any punches for the sake of nicety though. Our community is built on dialogue, integrity, and honesty, so with that in mind I apologize in advance to those whose feelings I’m about to singe.”
The Fine Brothers had produced an original video piece for the Awards, much like they had last year. Unfortunately, in the middle of playing their video, it crashed. And while host Paul Scheer, a seasoned improviser, did a good job of vamping in the silence that followed, it seemed to be the beginning of a steady decline in the pacing of the show.
“Technical glitches happen. While a tech rehearsal might have been wise, I also understand that there’s a monetary concern”, said Nina Bargiel, creator of the Streamy-winning Valemont ARG. “I thought Paul Scheer was a virtual hero, and handled himself impeccably. I walked in a Paul Scheer fan, but people who didn’t know him all remarked on the amazing job he did.”
“An awards show for web shows should make it’s online presence a top priority. Chatrooms were not moderated and overrun with YouTubers”, commented Anthony DeLosa, a content creator that was watching from home. “While that in and of itself is a reminder of how to create a fan base that few web shows have someone clearly misrepresented to them what the Streamys are.”
In general, the feeling in the community was that the technical issues themselves weren’t as much of an issue as what they lead to. “Before we hit that curve in the road we had a great monologue, some impressive entertainment pieces, and most importantly, we recognized some truly wonderful talent in the digital space,” shared Derek Housman, web content creator and IAWTV member. “The technical issues would have been forgiven had the show not derailed as far as it did.”
(The full version of The Fine Brothers Streamy video is posted above)
There was quite a bit of discussion on just how many times the word “vulgar” came up in Twitter posts in response to the Streamys. In his blog, Blake Calhoun (Creator of Streamy-winning PINK) commented: “I was … very surprised at the amounts of sex references, sex jokes and just plain vulgarity throughout the entire production (and I’m not even talking about the two streakers – which was, um, yeah…). And trust me, I’m not a prude.”
“The most common complaint I’ve heard is the raunchy, inappropriate humor”, said Michelle Dunlap (Issue: The Series). “For an awards show that had not only the creators, but their families and friends (including children) in attendance, I feel that this was an enormous mistake on their part. The awards were billed as a celebration of the creators and artists who made them possible, but I’m rather ashamed to point to the awards after this year’s show. I see this medium as being much more than cheap sex jokes.”
“Don’t you think that the venue and the weather were almost a metaphor for this and last year’s events?”, mused Taryn O’Neill (Compulsions, After Judgement). “Last year- gorgeous sunny weather- lush surroundings and a ramshackled yet quaint theatre – the 09’s Streamys may have been disorganized but the ceremony was full of bright moments and outsurpassed everyone’s expectations. This year, red carpet set up in a downtown back alley and a parking lot, seedy, dirty, rain threatening, theatre ornate and a bit gaudy. The ceremony encompassed both the seedy and the gaudy.”
“I just felt we didn’t focus on the Success of Web Television so that the Mainstream Media and Hollywood Studios see the VALUE of the space, instead of low brow college humor of four years ago”, stated Mark Gantt (multiple Streamy Award-winner, The Bannen Way).
Overuse of Self-Deprecation
Many people felt the show seemed to rely heavily on humor that would be more appropriate at a roast than an awards show. “The Streamy organizers need to remember that it is a celebration, not a roast”, confirmed Mathieas, a long-time web community member and contributor to the popular blog Web Series Today (formally LG15Today). “The people who are going to watch are people who watch web series and as such, don’t want to listen to a bunch of people telling them how obscure or stupid it is. Imagine going to the CMA’s only to have the host act like country music doesn’t exist or that the only thing that matters is rock.”
“The one real criticism I have of the show was the generally negative tone about Web Television”, said Chris McCaleb (Big Fantastic). “For an event ostensibly honoring the best and brightest in our industry, there seemed to be a consensus among the writers that Web TV is irrelevant, a dead end, a desperate attempt to gain celebrity or that elusive “big break.” As a filmmaker who has been creating New Media professionally for nearly four years (and counting), as well as an inaugural member of the IAWTV, I was taken aback by the overwhelming condescension. Now, it would have been careless NOT to poke fun at our nascent industry – after all, this is still very new, and to ignore the growing pains would be dishonest. But the show seemed to have concluded that Web TV is DOA, and that opinion was simply not representative of the thousands of professionals in attendance, or the hundreds of millions of viewers they represent.”
Effects on New Media
Continued McCaleb: “I can’t imagine how incredibly difficult it is to build an awards show, from the ground up. Rather than idly complaining about the shortcomings of the event, this community should rise up to help bring the Streamys to their full potential. That is the key – the Streamys and the IAWTV aren’t some huge corporation (despite the fancy appearances and army of publicists) – they are ordinary people like us, trying to make a difference. They’re people who love the medium, and want to see everyone succeed. Because this is the online community, we can actually have a huge impact – we can make a difference. So I hope the Producers reach out to this thriving, creative community for next year – we’re ready to help.”
There seemed to be a general consensus that while this might have short-term, damaging effects in the eyes of traditional media, it in no way prevents the web community from banding together an improving the situation. “I sort of equate last night to the second night of the opening of a play,” said Brian Rodda (StrikeTV) “Opening night (last year) is always a blast, but you have to fight the Second Night slump (last night). I’m looking forward to the third act or rather, the third nights performance.”
“It felt like because last year’s Awards were a success and most importantly celebrated so much, the powers that be behind the Streamys just went for bigger is better. And it’s not,” continued O’Neill. “Bite sized entertainment, know your audience, find your niche, innovative storytelling, interactivity…NONE of these key components of success on the web were applied to last night’s awards show. So, if there is a next year, hire writers who are talented and to the point. Hire a host who likes web series or is even involved in one! Show a highlight reel at the beginning of the awards show like you did last year celebrating this years achievements. The one from last year gave me the chills, the one this year made me feel nothing as it was 2/3 through the show and I was already numb with shock.”
All in all, the dialogue needs to continue and the community needs to feel they are a part of the process. “Show us you’ve listened to what people say about this year’s ceremony. Not the rants but the fair criticism,” said web community guru and popular blogger WorldofHiglet. “It won’t be easy but the passion you see shows that people care. It will make it all the sweeter when the same people praise you next year.”
Burnie from Rooster Teeth (Red vs. Blue summed up the night in a comment on Inside LG15: “If you read the Twitter search feed for “streamys”, you may get a different perspective on the evening. I realize it must have been tough to sit in that theater, in the midst of all that mayhem — and the majority of the Streamy Tweets would back up that sentiment. There’s a full account of bad jokes, technical miscues and even nude guys stealing the spotlight. However, if you can get through all that, you will see a sprinkling of posts that express disappointment with the event, but also clearly mention the discovery of new shows. These are people who were seeing The Bannen Way for the first time, people who were just realizing how talented the Gregory Bros are, even people who were finally figuring out why everyone is fascinated by Felicia Day. Amidst all that noise of bad jokes, all that chaos of failing technology and all that mayhem of anonymous party crashers, people were still able to discover new voices and find something that spoke to them. Sounds like the internet to me.”
If you’re interested in getting further views and discussion on the issues surrounding the Streamy Awards, here is a compilation of blog entries from creators, vloggers, viewers, and fans:
The Last Geek Bus Home (WorldofHiglet): http://worldofhiglet.blogspot.com/2010/04/streamys-2010-oh-what-nightbut-not-in.html
Horrible Turn (Chance McClain): http://horribleturn.tumblr.com/post/516621948/a-horrible-turn-at-the-streamy-awards
Jace Hall: http://www.jacehall.net/blog/the-2010-streamys-award-show-disaster/
Blake Calhoun: http://loudpictures.blogspot.com/2010/04/kevin-smith-and-2nd-annual-streamy.html
Brian Lerner: http://brianlerner.tumblr.com/post/516252335/since-you-didnt-ask-my-thoughts-on-the-streamys
Inside LG15 (Miles Beckett): http://inside.lg15.com/2010/04/12/the-streamys-let-us-all-down/
Efficient Creativity (Angelique Toschi): http://efficientcreativity.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/streamy-disaster/
Barrett Garese: http://www.barrettgarese.com/post/516372282/season-one-episode-17
Web Series Today (Mathieas): http://www.webseriestoday.com/2010/04/streamys-this-was-celebration-of-web.html
Nicholas j. Robinson: http://www.nicholasjrobinson.com/blog/general/success-failure-lightsabers-awards-moving-on-from-the-2010-streamys
Twitchy Unreliable-Looking (TheOneTrueB!x): http://www.twitchyunreliablelooking.com/2010/04/12/the-trainwreck-awards/
Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below or on any of the other sites and blogs covering the event. The only way for things to improve is to continue an open, honest, and constructive dialogue.