The downtown ceremony, in its 17th year, highlighted those who have used the web for social good
By Helaina Hovitz
On Tuesday night, hundreds gathered for the 17th Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani (55 Wall Street) in a ceremony that honored excellence on the Internet.
One of the first to arrive on the red carpet was DJ Steve Porter — who we hope went to the bathroom first.
“If I get the chance to meet Ben Stiller or any of the ‘superstar celebs’ here tonight, I’ll pee my pants,” he said.
Porter credited the Webbys with boosting his career, which skyrocketed after he won the same award last year, the People’s Vote in Online Film & Video. This year’s video, his mash-up hit, “So Disrespectful,” features sound bites from Steven A. Smith’s ESPN talk show.
“It was a hit because it has a nice beat. A nice beat and a nice topic,” he reasoned about the LeBron James themed bit.
Later that night, ESPN won their own award, Best Documentary Series, for “30 for 30,” but Harper Reed, one of the three gentlemen who spearheaded Obama for America’s 2012 campaign, said that ESPN.com is one of the worst things about the Internet.
“ESPN sucks,” he said. Along with Michael Slaby and Teddy Goff, he accepted the Breakout of the Year award. The group was credited with revolutionizing the way future campaigns will be implemented across the globe.
Their speech: “Made possible by Mitt Romney.” (All award winners are confined to a 5-word acceptance speech.)
Patton Oswald began by observing, “Look at all these people taping this. By all means, record this shaky iPhone version, because this will never be on the Internet.”
He went on to say, “This whole thing was Kickstarted, but we didn’t quite make our stretch goal, so instead of Louise C.K., you have me as your host.”
Arianna Huffington, a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, said that Oswald’s Twitter feed should be “printed onto a scroll, so that future generations can learn about us, because he talks about everything from Oscar Wilde to his farts.”
Chris Kluwe, Recipient of Webby Athlete of the Year, sent in an acceptance clip.
“I already lost one job this year, and I don’t want to lose another,” he explained of his need to stay put with his new team, the Oakland Raiders. Kluwe was honored for his use of the Internet as a tool to end homophobia in professional sports and campaign for other LGBT rights. His speech: “Treat others with empathy. Bye!”
Honored for similar efforts was the absent Frank Ocean, who also accepted the Person of the Year award via video. Commended for using social media as a “cultural tool” and attempting to bring an end to discrimination in hip-hop, he promised to come out next year to see someone else “fumble through their acceptance speech.”
Dinner was herbed chicken, potatoes, and asparagus, and vegetable lasagna for the vegetarians.
The ceremony continued with a tribute to Aaron Schwartz, the Demand Progress founder who committed suicide earlier this year. His father, Robert, said, “I wish he was here to see this response.”
Steve Wilhite, who patented the graphic .GIF, didn’t speak at all in his Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech, but pointed to the in-house screens, which read, “It’s pronounced jiff, not gif” thus ending years of speculation.
Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, founders of Trigger Street Productions, picked up the Special Achievement award for their Netflix series “House of Cards” and their use of technology “for creative experimentation.”
Their five choice words were, “The Oscars should do this.”
Aria Finger, COO for DoSomething.org, accepted the award for Best Charitable Organization/Non-Profit with, “Apathy can kiss DoSomething.org’s tuchas!”
“Dirty Yiddish, I like it,” Oswald mused.
Comedian Collin Quinn presented the final award of the night to Jerry Seinfeld for Outstanding Comedic Performance in the web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
“Jerry doesn’t need this award. It’s an insult to him. I need it, and I’m not getting it, and that’s life,” he said.
Seinfeld’s acceptance speech wasn’t, as Quinn predicted, “I can buy this place,” but instead, “Why five words? It doesn’t…”
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