The Webby Awards are pretty stupid. Not that giving out awards for achievement on the internet is an inherently bad idea, but when in order to be considered for a nomination you need to pay a “submission fee” costing hundreds of dollars, it’s tough to consider them even remotely relevant. I mean, look at the nominees in categories about web videos; they all come from big companies, such as Funny or Die, CollegeHumor, Broadway Video and The Onion (or from corporations such as Microsoft and Chipotle). Those folks put out great stuff, sure, but did they really have no competition at all from amateur groups? But very few amateur groups have the scratch to throw away on a fee for something like this, which would provide very little upside due to the irrelevancy of the awards. It’s a vicious circle, you see.
And further pushing the Webbies into total irrelevancy is this: the “Webby Actresses of the Year” went to Graydon Sheppard and Juliette Lewis from “Shit Girls Say.” One of those people is not an actress, because he’s a man. Now, it’s pretty obvious that this award was handed out to Juliette Lewis because she is a celebrity — the Webbies have always fawned over “real” celebrities in order to attempt to give themselves some legitimacy — but it’s not a little insulting to the women out there making great videos to award it to a dude and a celebrity who is in his video for about 10 seconds. Or at least it would be insulting, if the Webbys mattered.
What makes the internet great is that it’s a relatively level playing field in which people with no budgets or corporate backing can put out content alongside material backed by huge budgets, and viewers get to decide what’s deserving of their eyeballs. It’s very democratic! But with the Webbys’ high fees for submissions and obsession with celebrity, they make it seem more like TV, in which only a few moneyed groups can participate and famous faces matter above all else. For an awards show that claims to represent the internet, that shows a real lack of awareness over how the internet actually works.