There was plenty of celebrity sparkle at the 17th Annual Webby Awards. Among those taking home honors on May 21, 2013, were Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, R&B Singer Frank Ocean, Pop Sensation Justin Bieber and Producers Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, among others. As the Internet medium becomes a more sophisticated tool of the arts, it has increasingly drawn from the talent pool that once only populated the stage or screen.
Mixed in with the celebrity glitter were some more unusual and less well known names, such as Steve Wilhite, who invented the GIF (graphics interchange format) back in 1980s while working at CompuServe. As noted by the Huffington Post, it still serves as a popular, albeit low-tech, tool for sharing files online. Also receiving accolades for its viral sensation was the Australian Rail Safety campaign, whose series title was “Dumb Ways to Die.”
More common among the winners selected by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Webby Awards, were series like “House of Cards,” the political thriller that was released first to Netflix (produced by Webby winners Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti). This series was particularly important because, in the words of the Huffington Post, it demonstrated “that digital media can produce cable-quality drama.”
So, too, did Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which featured the funny man and his friends hanging out. Yet not all of the Webbys were about rivaling cable. Many of the Webby Awards handed out showcased the versatility of the Internet’s use, from promoting a fragrance (Justin Bieber) to promoting a candidate (Barack Obama).
Variety of Webbys reflects the Internet’s wide range
Honored for his decision to come out as a bisexual man on Tumblr was R&B Sensation Frank Ocean. According to the Huffington Post, his Webby as Person of the Year was given for “proving the power of the Web as a medium for cultural change.”
The Webby Artist of the Year Award was given to Claire Boucher, a Canadian pop-synth singer who goes by the name of Grimes. Other celebs taking home Webby honors were Lady Gaga for her fan presence and Conan O’Brien for his fan website. Other websites to receive Webbys include The Onion and the New York Times.
No drag on this show
Perhaps the most amusing part of the Webby Awards ceremony is the rule applying to acceptance speeches. No long-winded Oscar-like recitation of names to thank. Instead, each winner is allowed only five words. And, of course, as noted by USA Today, Seinfeld used them best when he spoke, saying “Why five words? It doesn’t….”