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Don’t look, Oscars, online Dante Awards are hot on your heels

As the weekend approaches, people can look forward to not only one award show, but two. To honor motion pictures, the Academy Awards will be broadcasted on Sunday, March 7, but on Saturday, March 6, a new award show, “The Dante’s,” will be held to honor cyberspace videos.

For the first annual “Dante Awards” there are 25 categories for amateur and professional videos. The categories range from Best YouTube Video of the Year, and Best YouTube Video Director to Best YouTube GLBT video and Best YouTube Philosophy Video. With over 300 submissions, the winner of each category will be announced via YouTube March 6, at 9 p.m. Greenwich time, or 4 p.m. Eastern in Massachusetts.

The idea is the brainchild of Jean-Pierre Ady Fenyo. Fenyo is the president and founder of The Rodin Academy of YouTube Video Arts & Sciences, which is presenting the awards. The Rodin Academy of YouTube Video Arts & Sciences, a London-based group, is “a virtual cyberspace Academy for YouTube users, directors, artists, musicians, etc,” said Fenyo. The Rodin Academy is not associated directly with Google or YouTube.

An award ceremony for YouTube videos is not unheard of. Since 2006, the YouTube Awards has formally recognized videos for the Best YouTube videos of the year. Videos are nominated by YouTube staff and voted for by users in seven categories. The Dante Awards were created to offer an alternative to the videos advertised on YouTube.

“I see so much junk on YouTube that I decided to promote videos that are inspiring and artistic,” said Fenyo.

YouTube members can submit their production in up to three award categories. After submission, a video is rated by the general public and a sub-group of the Academy called V.I.P. Members. To be nominated, a video must be an original creation or not in violation of copyright laws. Another regulation of the awards is that videos must not violate the “non-violent-unity-in-diversity” principle of the Awards, which bans videos that are regarded as hateful or discriminatory.

After nominations, videos are posted to the Academy’s website, where the general public and V.I.P. members can vote for their favorite nominees. After the awards are announced, winners receive a Dante Award, to be posted on their homepage as well as a certificate.

David Allum, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, sees the awards as an opportunity.

“Many people here at UMass are tired of the crap they see on YouTube,” he said. “They go seeking information or entertainment, but that is not what they find.”

Though Allum is not currently involved in the Dante’s, he said he would like to participate in the future because he believes in the Awards’ message.

“We have on our hands a socially conscious, politically savvy and powerfully active grassroots group, right here,” said Allum of the Amherst area, adding that he believes the awards are an “opportunity to make a difference.”

Another student, freshman Alex Chapman, was intrigued at the prospect of the ceremony.

“I think it’s a pretty sweet idea,” said Chapman. “It’ll create publicity within the YouTube community, definitely, and spark a lot more usage.”

 Chapman, who prefers to watch funny videos, said he is more likely to watch a video which has won an award.

“If a bunch of people think some video out there I’ve never heard of is absolutely hilarious, I would definitely want to check it out,” he said.

Michelle Williams can be reached at mnwillia@student.umass.edu.

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