Per the panel of scholars, critics, professors, and media analysts that make up the judging panel for the Peabody Awards: "the Award is determined by one criterion -- Excellence." Announced earlier this week for the 68th Annual Peabody Awards event, the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication included Avatar: the Last Airbender amongst a traditionally noteworthy field of top-tier news organizations, high art documentaries, and other, independent programming endeavors. Awards are offered for outstanding achievements, generally speaking, in the areas of electronic media, which includes radio, television, and cable.
"From the start, Bryan [Konietzko] and I set out to make a series that would exceed what audiences normally expect from children's animated shows."
Avatar: the Last Airbender is one of few animated programs to have received a Peabody, again reinforcing the authority of the animated image. "We're proud of all the people who worked tirelessly to make that goal a reality," DiMartino added.
An adventure series with plenty of heart, Avatar: the Last Airbender follows a troupe of intrepid teens pressed with the unheard-of task of helping a young boy master the four Earthly elements in order to save the world from a villainous regime.
Aang, free-spirited if a bit temperamental at times, is the Avatar and proposed savior of the land. Burdened with the responsibility of saving the world just after resurfacing from nearly 100 years of slumber, the boy lucks out, and finds a great set of companions to aid him in his journey: Katara and Sokka, kind-hearted siblings from the Southern Water Tribe; Toph, a blind but self-sufficient warrior girl; and Zuko, an exiled prince from the land of said villainous regime.
Assuredly, Aang's journey is one wrought with the frustration, emotional torment, fervent delight, and occasional fear one might associate with being tasked to save the world at age twelve.
Awarding a Peabody for the animated series' dynamic storytelling and extraordinary character development, the Board offered the following, pithy analysis of Avatar: the Last Airbender: Unusually complex characters and healthy respect for the consequences of warfare enhanced this American-made, anime-influenced martial-arts adventure.
The Peabody Awards--named for George Foster Peabody, a Georgian, financier and major benefactor of the University--first honored radio programming (c. 1941) to offer an essential recognition of commendable service in the communications field. Later, network television (c. 1948) and cable television (c. 1981) entered into competition. Now, the Peabody Awards, though open for submission to a variety of electronic media from any number of individuals, still keeps close to its strict judging process. A process, which includes some thirty committees reviewing more than one thousand entries, poring over written recommendations, seeing which items pass the intense deliberations of the Board of scholars, industry professionals, and University faculty
Previous animated programs receiving of the Peabody Award include: South Park (2005), Dora the Explorer (2003), Blue's Clues (2001), The Simpsons (1996), and Wallace & Gromit (1995).
Past AVATAR News at Animation Insider:
"36th Annual Annie Awards" at AnimationInsider.net (02/2009)
"Latest Avatar Videogame Turns Up the Heat" at AnimationInsider.net (10/2008)
"Nick's Avatar Animation Series Finale Ratings" at AnimationInsider.net (07/2008)
"Avatar: the Last Airbender at the 2008 Licensing Expo" at AnimationInsider.net (06/2008)
(Sources: University of Georgia, The Big Cartoon Database, Nickelodeon)