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The Streamys Nominees: Celebrities, Underdogs and Our Very Own Avatar

Well, the Streamy nominations are out, and it’s a beautiful morning for Crackle (whose series Angel of Death and The Bannen Way dominated the Drama categories) and ICM (per agent George Ruiz’s Twitter, its clients received 23 nominations.

But taking a step back, what do we gather from this list — and the Streamys in general? To start this off, let’s have some full disclosure: Not only did I vote for the nominees as a member of the IAWTV, but I participated in a pre-judging screening round, where some IAWTV members were asked to pare down the number of nominees in certain categories, due to the overwhelming number of options submitted. However, while there were a few options that I wish I’d been able to nominate when I went to select my choices, overall I didn’t find it too difficult to make my picks.

And going through today’s nominees, there are several small ones that I’m glad to see. Just some of them: Unauthorized Dr. Horrible prequel Horrible Turn‘s nod for best original music, Young American Bodies‘s Joe Swanberg for best director for a drama, INST MSGS for best experimental series and the gorgeous Hong Kong-set LUMINA for cinematography. In addition, if Valemont‘s game-changing interactivity doesn’t win the big prize in April, I’ll be full of serious woe.

However, the acting categories are a bit disappointing, as that’s where the bias towards the talent established by other mediums can be seen. Looking at the Best Female Actor in a Comedy category, for example, the only person there who would be considered a true veteran of the web series world is Felicia Day — who was already vaguely known prior to The Guild for her work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Male Actor in a Comedy category is somewhat more balanced, with Amir Blumenfeld and Sandeep Parik offsetting Zach Galifianakis and Tony Hale, and Craig Frank for Compulsions and Sophie Tilson for OzGirl are inspiring to see. But there’s a heavy emphasis on Hollywood here that doesn’t necessarily reflect the real talent pool currently acting in web video.

And personally, I’m pretty torn about The Bannen Way, as my opinion of it since my first review hasn’t changed. For me, it’s the Avatar of the Streamys this year — too popular not to nominate, but derivative despite all its polish.

Ultimately, the Streamys will always probably struggle to find the right balance between celebrating homegrown heroes, helping lesser-known talent get new recognition, and honoring the Hollywood influx that has increased the medium’s profile. But that very dilemma is itself a larger metaphor for the current state of this industry.

The intrusion of old media into new media is an issue we all go back and forth on, I think. It’s great to have the potential of web video recognized by “the mainstream,” and the mainstream brings validation and money with it. But everyone likes to root for the underdog and the home team, and independent creators, working without the benefit of old media recognition, represent both — and provide the unique voices which help this medium thrive.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Fact or Fiction: Where Is Branded Online Video Going?

22 Responses to “The Streamys Nominees: Celebrities, Underdogs and Our Very Own Avatar

  1. Nick Carlton

    @Tim I hope we have it in the bag!! But as Liz mentioned we do have some good competition.

    We are all very honoured for our nominations and the nomination for Sophie in the Best Female Actor category particularly is a great reflection on both her ability and the fact that it’s still anyone’s game – indie or otherwise!

    Creator of OzGirl

  2. Great post, Liz. I found myself grumbling at the choices for Best Female Actors (in Comedy and Drama) as well. I was most disgruntled at the selections for Comedy, but I’m not sure whether to blame the writers or the actors… they all need to step it up! Time to go from “cute funny” to “character funny” or “raunchy funny” or something!

  3. Having spent some time with Mark and a little time with Jesse I have come to hold them in high regard. I actually call Mark a friend with my great respect, now that we have taken time to talk and he took an interest in me and my work when he didn’t have to, and was just very nice. I have seen him and the people behind this project.

    I have privately complimented Mark on his character and art, and noticed his grace when he is “on top” of this business and continue to be impressed with how down to earth and supportive he is to everyone.

    Mark is big now, but doesn’t make people feel small, he really is that on an ongoing basis.

    He deserves this break. Jesse deserves it.

    Avatar deserves it, frankly, too. So a lot of people like it so it should be punished? (The Guild?) What movie had the most technical mastery, which is the game changer, which movie will you have a party and watch because its a landmark film…Avatar.

    The Bannen Way’s birth into this world bugged me at first (which is a good thing because it lead me to ironically befriend the creators) because it was released under the wire to get a ton of Streamy awards because they knew they could and it would and it did.

    Now that its out we deal with it. It’s good. Deal with it. Avatar is a more important and better film than Hurt Locker or any other nominee whether you like it or not, deal with it.

    If another film wins it’s probably because it felt good to be able to “stick it to Cameron” not because it was a better directed or ground breaking film.

    In awards shows, as in funerals, the most deeply affected or deeply involved people are often not in attendance

  4. Jon Montgomery

    Last time I checked, wasn’t The Bannen Way an indie project at one point with two “broken artists” who found a way to create a great project by combining a great idea with great talent, then rubbing two pennies together and making some movie magic? James Cameron was hardly a starving artist who suddenly created Avatar. The comparison is pretty weak at best. Yeah, Bannen is a Sony show with some decent money behind it, but the guys who started it were no different than all the other “underdogs” trying to make a name for themselves. I guess you have to find someone to hate, it’s your job. Just do it a little better next time.

    • Hey, Jon, a) it’s not my job to hate anything and b) even if it were, I don’t hate The Bannen Way (my original review, in fact, contains a number of positive comments). My comparison was strictly based on comparing the show’s blockbuster success with Cameron’s film, and not Mark and Jesse’s backstory.

  5. Tim Nugent

    Personally, I feel like the “Best Foreign Series” category is a bit of a joke, especially since one of the nominees is also in the running for Best Drama. Clearly OzGirl has that one in the bag. Unless they’re evaluating it as which one feels ‘most foreign’.

  6. Thanks for a really nice post. Great to see we can have a mature discussion about this (it’s been rough in some other places). Ultimately, I feel it’s about realism and balance. Celebrity involvement doesn’t necessarily mean “good,:” but it doesn’t necessarily mean “bad,” either. And some of those celebs are among the pioneers of web content, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

    That said, it’s hard not to just root for the underdogs (especially when you are one of them ;-). It’s not very often in our entertainment awards culture where truly indie stuff paid for by a bunch of broke artists really gets to compete head-to-head against well-funded, studio and celeb-driven projects, as well as many projects which fall somewhere in between. I, for one, love that.

    There are a handful of indie series I think got badly shafted. I wish that could be fixed. But we have to be realistic as well. We’re a celebrity culture, and that drives the entertainment industry. Celebs help us all get mindshare in an increasingly cluttered entertainment realm. And some of them really are just frikking good at what they do and deserve the recognition.

    I just hope the Streamys continue to embrace really, truly indie content alongside celebrity. (And maybe even expand its inclusion – a feller can dream, right?)

    Creator, GOLD