2011 Workers Voice Awards Named, Signals Strong Year for Worker-Based Themes in Pop Culture

Can a film about an immigrant father struggling to start a gardening business be a defining work of 2011? Yes. Who was best at amplifying workers' voices this year? Well, with everyone in pop culture pimping workers issues this year (see Jay-Z "Occupy" T-Shirt for sale but not for charity), it can get a little cloudy. That's a good problem. But to clear things up a bit, here's a rundown on best expressions of workers in pop culture. Its the 2011 Workers Voice Awards, named by PopWork USA.

Best Film (Feature)
A Better Life. Director: Chris Weitz (Summit/Green Orchard)

Best Film (Documentary)
Triangle: Remembering the Fire. Director: Marc Levin, Daphne Pinkerson (Blowback Productions/HBO Films)

Best Television Show (Drama)
Friday Night Lights. Producer: Peter Berg, Brian Grazer, David Nevins (NBC/DirecTV)

Best Television Show (Comedy)
Parks and Recreation. Producer: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur (NBC)

Best Television Show (Reality)
Dirty Jobs. Producer: Craig Piligian (Pilgrim Films/Discovery Channel)

Best Art Exhibit or Display
Wisconsin Labor: A Contemporary Portrait. @The Overture Center for the Arts (Madison, WI)

Best Online Video Short
"We Are Wisconsin". Producer: Finn Ryan, David Navala (on vimeo)

Best Book (Fiction)
A Moment in the Sun - John Sayles (McSweeney's)

Best Book (Non-Fiction)
Griftopia - Matt Taibbi (Spiegel & Grau)

Best Song (for Listening)
"I Need A Dollar" - Aloe Blacc (Stone's Throw)

Best Song (for Rallying)
"Union Song" - Tom Morello (New West)

More observations and trends about what was nominated and won and delving deeper into certain categories will come later.

The awards were based on a survey of people in the arts, entertainment, union, working family advocacy, and political arenas first generating various nominations before determining these winners. They are an attempt to shine a light on works that reflect the voices of workers today which is part of the mission of PopWork USA. See the full list of all works in every category that were under consideration, and go check them all out!

Criteria for Awards: must evoke voices of workers or issues of working families; Released or were in public sphere between August 1, 2010 - July 31, 2011; commercially available or easily accessible.

They are worthy of your attention and sharing with others. We are just skimming the surface in terms of the stories out there and ways to convey their messages in an entertaining or provocative way.