As someone who's worked on various web productions in just about every capacity, and working currently on becoming a show creator, the Streamy Awards 2010 outlined to me a number of things about the industry as a whole.
The image NewTeeVee posted of David Faustino with little more than a loincloth, pressed up against a clearly embarrassed Felicia Day, pretty much sums up Web Television. We're still in puberty, and there are people who've grown up (Day) and there are people who insist you call them "Badger" while they do a keg stand (Faustino). (Furthermore, anyone who knows Day should know this shouldn't, on any level, have happened.)
The truth is, we as an industry strive to say that we are equally legitimate to television and film, and the Streamy Awards - run by us - spoke to the world thusly: "We're not ready for the big time." The self-deprecating and (as someone who loves the F-bomb) vulgar humor - panned by viewers and news outlets - fits for me. No, it wasn't funny, but it was to me the most honest part about the whole awards ceremony. It was us telling the world that we are insecure and immature as an industry.
And we are.
Let us acknowledge, but set aside, the tastelessness of Streak To Win's antics, and look at the response. So far, at least to the extent that I can see on our trusted news sites, no one, not the Streamys, not the IAWTV (though many members are publicly upset), in any official capacity has imposed consequences.
Compare with the Oscars, when a producer pre-show e-mailed the voting public begging to vote for Hurt Locker and not Avatar (without even saying "Avatar" directly). He was banned immediately from the Oscars. When The Cove won, one of the producers tried to raise up a sign for donations to a charity that helped the dolphins. The cutaway was so quick I almost didn't realize what it was for.
I am not certain what angers me more - that the producers of the show thought it all well and good to streak the Streamys (which spits in the face of the industry they want to be apart of), or that we as an industry are not imposing or lack the ability to impose consequences on tarnishing the image of our awards ceremony. If Matt Damon were to streak the Oscars (calm down, girls), there would be no question: He would be banned for life from the ceremonies. A semi-private e-mail got a producer banned from one show. It's not rocket science.
What this tells us is that if we aren't officially condemning/punishing the act, we are condoning it.
There is hope, of course. We still have Felicia Day and Sean Becker, both of whom may very well be constructed entirely of class, and Bernie Su, Mark Gantt and others coming onto the scene with the humility and class (there's that word again) they know the industry needs to thrive.
As the saying goes: "The more I know, the more I realize I don't know." The wise man acknowledges his shortcomings. The Streamys this year came with the belief that we as an industry know everything. And here's a little newsflash - we don't. (I, admittedly, still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.)
There are plenty of articles to bash the Streamys, and I'm trying not to fall into that category, but rather, begging my contemporaries and betters to acknowledge that we are an immature medium. We did last year. But we have one good awards ceremony that, through a can-do attitude and an independent spirit, let slide the difficulties, and all of a sudden we go into the second as though we have everything figured out. Ceremony itself aside, that attitude is prevalent throughout the industry.
And our gatekeepers not only allowed it to happen, but were the ones who made it happen! We as an industry came in like we had nothing to prove - and that is a major fallacy. We have so many things to prove to the world, and we must acknowledge that.
The show must be made for the Days and Beckers of the industry. It doesn't need to be "entertaining," it doesn't need to be "sexy." Our medium is unique in that our shows' connections to our viewers are infinitely closer than any other type of programming. Our audience will be thrilled right now just to see awards being doled out and clips or quips along the way. There are people who watched the Streamys in 2009, saw Felicia Day's victory and celebrated with the excitement normally reserved for their best friend - having never met Ms. Day.
That is our industry. We share a connection that even audience-friendly shows like Chuck can never hope to have. The awards ceremony is to acknowledge the best of the best. It also sets the tone for the next cycle until the third Streamys. This time? That tone was "childish."
The IAWTV and the outlets that comprise it and the Streamys, if they are to retain any shred of legitimacy, must punish the children that acted out and establish their authority. In this case, it would be Streak To Win. It's not enough for me to simply blacklist them from my viewing habits. There are consequences to those actions. And so far, the only consequences are people on the web looking them up to find out what in God's name that was all about - in effect increasing their viewership.
So far, their gambit worked. And we're allowing it to work.
A letter from the chair is not enough. That is what we in The Biz call "lip service." Actions play. This letter, while sincere, does what the other media we claim to buck against does: Claim it couldn't be helped, but it's gonna be better later. While it's probably true that the IAWTV didn't have oversight (and acknowledged that they should've and will from here on in), that doesn't excuse that they've done nothing in the aftermath to those responsible - the streakers, the impromptu make-outs/dry-humping, etc. - for taking a big night in our industry and turning it into a farce.
I would like to see that, in the wake of the 2010 Streamys, we as an industry be honest with ourselves about where we are in the grander scheme of things. For starters, we just proved that we're still "New Media." Until we decide to realize what we don't know, and move on with the confidence that That's Okay, we are destined to make the same mistakes of "Old Media."
It is my hope that we grow up.