The Cool Site of the Year Awards ceremony was weird. Partly it's an east/west difference, partly the web is just changing, but the awards this year were so soul-less, so corporate, so ... icky.
There were banners with urls on every wall, there were booths, like it was a trade show. Hell, even the stirrers in the drinks had urls on them. And the cups. And....
And then there was Robin Leach, the emcee. What an inappropriate man. He yelled at us to shut up, scolded us like children ("I'll wait!" he said. Can you believe it?), and generally acted like a whiny little dictator. I think the only parental cliché he left out was "Don't make me come back there," though he did physically threaten someone on the balcony.
Oh yeah, and he made an anti-Semitic slur which went over real big with me. In the beginning of the ceremony, after berating us for 15 minutes, he brought up one of the sponsors to "interview" him about his wonderful company (which obviously paid for this to happen), and the guy was thanking some people in his company:
"And I want to thank Rob Levine in accounting," he said.
"Ah yes," said Mister Leeech. "What accounting department doesn't have a Levine?"
I would have walked right out then and there if I hadn't come such a long way.
So when it finally came time for my category, I tried to put all the nonsense behind me. I was excited and stressed and pissed - a great combo.
And when my name was called and all the wonderful people around me erupted into cheers and hugged me, well, that blew all the stress away. What a wonderful moment. I'll treasure it forever.
So I walked onstage, the guy in a bunny costume gave me my award (don't ask), and someone handed me the microphone.
I thanked everyone who voted, I thanked the fray authors and made Alex, Gregory, Shauna, and Maggie stand up and take a bow, and I thanked all the people out there who post to fray and make it what it is.
And I was going to stop there. I really was. But then, as Utah Phillips once said, something inside of me snapped. And I grabbed that mic and looked past all the lights and said:
People! The web is not about banner advertising!
(The crowd cheers.)
The web is not about product placement!
The web is not about uploads, downloads or clickthroughs!
And the web is certainly not about the lifestyles of the rich and famous!
(The crowd erupts. I look at Robin. He flips me off and looks away. I smile. Hugely.)
Ladies and gentlemen,
The web is about YOU.
Tell your stories!
And with that, I walked offstage to a cacophony like I've never experienced before. Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and cheers. I was shaking and couldn't believe what I'd done. But I was so glad I did it. Somebody had to.
"Robin lost control at that point," Jeffrey told me later." And he never got it back."
God bless the web.