Take for instance, this recent (and infamous) appearance by Joaquin Phoenix on the Late Show with David Letterman:
Now, this isn't so much awkward as it is bizarre. But it still serves it purpose. Awkwardness is a deterrence from normalcy, or how you would expect people to act towards you or with others. What I love most about awkwardness is how it makes "normal" people act when they are confronted with it. They are so used to how things are supposed to be that they do not know how to react with faced with unpredictable circumstances. Luckily for Letterman, his comedic background allows him to face such awkwardness with humor and brutal honesty without being overtly hurtful.
Awkwardness is in many ways like prostitution, as it has always been with us, and it will always be with us, no matter what society or culture we become a part of.