Each year since 1996, the Webby Awards have been a place to admire the best of the Internet: the influential creators, viral content and powerhouse brands that have come to define what the web is all about.
This year’s ceremony — held Monday night (May 13) at Cipriani Wall Street in New York — was packed with memorable jokes, powerful acceptable speeches and bold fashion statements.
Here are five things we saw at the Webby Awards this year.
Some Creative Five-Word Speeches
The Webby Awards does acceptance speeches a little differently than most traditional award shows: winners only get five words. The quirky limitation produced vastly different results for this year’s honorees — from calls-to-action from Monica Lewinsky ("Unbelievably grateful, click with compassion") and actress Issa Rae ("Stop believing stupid people, shit!") to Hasan Minaj’s funny quip (“This is going on eBay”).
Tierra Whack Named Webby Artist of the Year
Hip-hop artist Tierra Whack was crowned this year’s Webby artist of the year for her experimental and critically acclaimed debut album, Whack World, which she released on Instagram in May of last year.
Rapper Freeway, who like Whack hails from Phildelphia, presented the 23-year-old rising star with the award, noting that the world’s “collective mind was blown” when Whack World dropped.
“Whack World isn't just visually and lyrically stunning, it also raises the bar for where and how art can be made in the age of social media,” Freeway said at the ceremony. “With Whack World, Tierra Whack seized the opportunity to meet people where they are — on the Internet — with a bold, exciting album which doesn't just fit the medium, it elevates it.”
Whack’s five-word speech: “Weird hype and creative kids.”
A Celebration of The Internet
Among this year’s attendees of social media whizzes, up-and-coming artists and groundbreaking creators was Vint Cerf, known as one of the “fathers of the Internet.” In honor of 50 years of the Internet, Cerf addressed the show’s audience to recount the web’s origins and look to the future. “The Webbys tells us what’s possible,” he said at the conclusion of his speech.
Jenny Slate Being Jenny Slate
Comedian and actress Jenny Slate hosted the ceremony, making the night one to remember. Occasionally veering off-script, Slate kept the show moving with plenty of jokes and stories from her childhood. At one point she held an "In Memoriam" for the term "#selfcare" ("But not actual self-care — because I need that," she clarified) and also recounted a time she begged her parents to buy her a denim cape in hopes of reaching "cool kid" status at school.
A Push for Change
The Webby Awards closed out its ceremony by awarding the Webby social movement of the year to 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who spearhead a global movement for climate justice led by youth activists. Thunberg shared her first school strike on Twitter and Instagram last August, prompting thousands of students across the globe to strike from school and raise awareness about the urgent issue of climate change.
Thunberg wasn’t in attendance at the ceremony but did make her powerful five-word speech video: “Act now or face disaster.”