The 21st Annual Webby Awards Honors the Best of the Internet

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Sunshine Sachs

“Women, look what we did.” -The Women’s March

“I got five on it.” -Solange

“No, you are fake news.” -Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith

“Gratitude. Honored. Louis, love you.” -Steve Buscemi

“I would like to thank…” – Gillian Anderson

“Enough red, enough blue. Purple.” -Van Jones

“Not food porn, food romance.” -Chef’s Table’s Andrew Fried

“Universal access to all knowledge.”

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NEW YORK, May 16, 2017
 — The Webby Awards honored the year’s biggest Internet visionaries, celebrating the Winners and Honorees of the 21st Annual Webby Awards with a star-studded ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 15. This year’s Webby Winners, Special Achievement Honorees, and Presenters included artist Solange, former X-Files duo Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, actor Steve Buscemi, comedian and actor Louis C.K., outspoken advocate and political commentator Van Jones, Latin rap sensation Residenté, The Women’s March co-chairs Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland, RadioLab podcasters Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, artist Kara Walker, New York Times puzzle editor extraordinaire Will Shortz, and digital influencers and YouTube Creators for Change ambassadors Franchesca Ramsey, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, and Humza Arshad.

First-time Webby Awards host, comedian and actor Joel McHale wowed the crowd with his first-hand knowledge of Internet history and culture, reminiscing about the first Webby Awards Show in 1997, when he was “still doing the Macarena” and “logging into his CompuServe account.” McHale also had plenty to say about the current state of the world, joking that this year “we said goodbye to Princess Leia, HBO’s Girls and American democracy.” The critically acclaimed comedian and actor kept this year’s Winners in line, enforcing the trademark 5-Word Webby rule for acceptance speeches, quipping “any longer, and you’re dead.”

The 21st Annual Awards Show lauded the innovators, entertainers, and visionaries that captivated the Internet this year. The evening was capped off with an emotional standing ovation to recognize the co-chairs of The Women’s March who were honored with the Webby Social Movement of the Year Award. The three women took to the stage to universal cheers and used their 5-Word Speech to powerfully declare: “Women. Look what we did.”

“This wasn’t the worst year for the Internet, it was the best. This was the year we looked up and realized what really matters,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “This was the year we realized that the values we, as an Internet community, really care about — our environment, inclusion, science, actual facts, truth, liberal democracy — can be stolen from us if we aren’t paying attention.”

Highlights from this year’s Webby Awards include:

Steve Buscemi accepted the Webby Best Actor Award from his friend, co-star, and TV brother Louis C.K. and said: “Gratitude. Honored. Love you, Louis.”

Former X-Files co-stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were reunited on stage, where Duchovny presented Anderson with the Webby Best Actress Award for her chilling role in The Fall. McHale, another X-Files veteran, was seen catching up with his co-stars backstage.

Artist Kara Walker presented Solange with the Award for Webby Artist of the Year, calling attention to her digital prowess through her site Saint Heron to celebrate cultural diversity and racial and social justice. Solange accepted the award, singing her 5-Word Speech: “I got five on it.”

CrisisTextLine and founder Nancy Lublin presented the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award to, pointing out that the Internet Archive produced “200 terabytes of data that could have otherwise been lost in the transition from blue light saber to red light saber.”

Fake news was a common theme of the evening, with a humorous “In Memoriam” video montage bidding farewell to “Fake News (2016-2017)” with a nod to the Pizzagate controversy and other clickbait. BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith continued the theme with his 5-Word Speech: “No, you are fake news.”

Host Joel McHale presented political activist and CNN commentator Van Jones with a Webby Special Achievement Award for his contributions on The Messy Truth, joking that he thought The Messy Truth was “a vacant show for kids.” Symbolically wearing a purple tie, Jones accepted his award, saying “Enough red, enough blue. Purple.”

Famed crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times Will Shortz, who quipped that he “proudly works at the failing New York Times,” presented Merriam-Webster with their Webby Award. Pointing to a dictionary in her hand on stage, Merriam-Webster’s Lisa Schneider said: “This is your secret weapon.”

Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich presented the first-ever Webby Awards celebrating the best in podcasting to popular podcast series Missing Richard Simmons, Still Processing, and The Hilarious World of Depression.

Latin rap sensation Residenté accepting his Webby Award from New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, saying: “Five words is never enough.”

Other notable 5-Word Speeches include:

Jimmy Fallon: “Say hooooo. Say ho ho.”

Dolly Parton: “I will always love you.”

Malcolm Gladwell: “Historical revisionists think we lost.”

Adam Savage: “Humbly, I’ll keep making. Thanks.”

YouTube Pride: “Proud to be for everyone.”

Missing Richard Simmons: “Richard couldn’t be here tonight.”

Teen Vogue’s Phillip Picardi: “Teenage girls are the future.”

Professional skateboarder Brian Anderson: “L. G. B. T. Q.”

Story Booth: “Kids stories change the world.”

Timehop: “We’ll remember this forever.”

Hilarious World of Depression: “Depression sucks. Jokes help. Yay.”

IFTTT: “If this, then thank you.”

OMGYES: “Different strokes for different folks.”

McCann New York: “It’s time to go further.”


Links to Post-Event Footage:

High-res red carpet arrival photos are available here.
(Photo credit: Getty/The Webby Awards)

High-res photos from the ceremony are available here.
(Photo credit: Getty/The Webby Awards)

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About the Webby Awards:
Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Film & Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Mobile Sites & Apps, Social, and Podcasts & Digital Audio. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: Google, Vitamin T, EY, YouTube, WP Engine, Johnnie Walker, HBO, Billboard, Creativepool, Daily Pnut, Digiday, FITC, General Assembly, It’s Nice That, Mashable, Northside Festival, NUMA, Protein, RGD, Social Media Week, SoDA, Springwise, Sysomos, Taste Talks, The Hollywood Reporter, TubeFilter, WeRSM, and WNYC.