The #FavesSoBlack stage during an ambient rain drop “performance”
The Inaugural “#FavesSoBlack” awards ceremony occurred at New York’s Webster Hall last weekend with just one award being given out of eight categories. Organized by several social media-based collectives, the event was meant to “celebrate the non-problematic celebrities” in the world, according to the ceremony’s Tumblr page. Tickets were free, but contingent on people being able to state one problematic music lyric at the door.
“We’re so woke!,” beamed event organizer Ray Schmidt during his opening speech. After smiling and clapping at the crowd for three minutes, he continued, announcing, “it’s so nice to have this space where we can celebrate the celebrities we’re here for in the entertainment world. None of them! I quit my job and went broke planning this event, knowing no one will win, but that’s what progression means. If everybody wants to be problematic, we’re not going to watch or listen to anything!”
Schmidt then announced the opening “performance,” a four minute loop of nature sounds.
The show offered eight award categories, but none of the celebrity nominees ending up winning an award. Every award presentation followed the same script: The nominees were announced, then individually taken “off the list” by the award presenters, who condemned the nominee for one reason or another.
Once reaching the final candidate, the presenters asked the crowd if they all were “here for” the choice. Contentious debate followed nearly every award announcement.
Such was the case with the “Best Woman” award, for which Nicki Minaj was the preemptive winner. After Schmidt announced Minaj as the winner, co-founder Jazmine Fletcher said she felt Minaj wasn’t a good choice.
“Everytime ‘Anaconda’ comes on in the club, I feel personally attacked,” Fletcher, who is noticeably thin, noted. “Some people will say she’s just mirroring misogyny to show men how it feels, but I thought misogyny was wrong? She’s off the list.”
After a raucous applause and several pats on Fletcher’s back, Minaj’s award was rescinded. The same instance happened to Minaj three other times over the course of the ceremony.
Kendrick Lamar faced equally harsh criticism, with his awards being rescinded twice. The first veto, for “Best Man” occurred because Lamar married an “ambiguously Black” woman. When his win for “Best Rapper” was vetoed, a presenter said he felt Lamar was a gimmick, opining “if he wasn’t rapping and was actually doing stuff for the Black community then I could see him deserving best rapper.”
Besides intermittent nature sound clips, the only actual performance at the ceremony was from Filipino Band Kaffa, who performed the song “Black & Woke.” Midway through the performance, Schmidt came onstage and interrupted the band, telling them that the predominantly Black crowd didn’t need the band to speak for them. Kaffa members angrily fired back that Schmidt booked them and asked them to perform the song, but left the stage nevertheless.
The award for “Best #Blackout Selfie” was given to the entire audience, and everyone in the ceremony was offered the chance to speak. When one woman came onstage, she jokingly said, “I get this is a celebration of everybody, but can my trophy be a little bigger? Did y’all see my baby hairs?”
The crowd sat in awkward silence after she left the stage. When Schmidt came up and told the crowd they could boo, they began vigorously booing the woman, transitioning into a chant of “say sorry!” When she walked onstage to apologize, they booed her so loudly that they couldn’t hear her apology.
The event soon descended, as the crowd began to participate in a #FavesSoBoring hashtag on Twitter. When Schmidt got wind of the hashtag, he asked attendees to put their phones away. People soon started to leave the ceremony.
After the event, most attendees expressed anonymous disapproval on the award show’s Tumblr page. One anonymous “Ask” said that the event was like “having to smile in really uncomfortable heels for three hours. And it doesn’t help that I was wearing really uncomfortable heels for three hours.”
Another blogger said that a man next to them at the ceremony was wearing a #BlackLivesMatter T-Shirt but was on Twitter re-tweeting #RuinABlackGirlsDay memes. The person said, “the communal atmosphere seemed kind of contrived and not built on anything. We didn’t even know who the other attendees were.”
Via e-mail, Schmidt said that despite the criticism the #FavesSoBlack awards will continue next year. Schmidt says he is currently spending his days scouting nominees to take off his list.