The Oscars Weren't Just Awkward, They Were Unacceptable

“I blame Steve Harvey.”

That quote was Jimmy Kimmel’s feeble attempt at deflecting criticism when the wrong "Best Picture" was named at the 2017 Oscars ceremony. Kimmel’s joke didn’t land.

The most trending topic of that night continues to be the “La La Land” fiasco – or #EnvelopeGate – where Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced Damien Chazelle’s musical over the real winner: “Moonlight.” Whether you were an aghast guest sitting in Dolby Theater or viewing from the comfort of home, the tension on-screen was nearly palpable. However, that mistake was far from the only one throughout the night, making the 2017 Oscars a national embarrassment.

There are several reasons why the 2017 Oscars ceremony had historically low ratings. With its numerous blunders, lackluster enthusiasm throughout the show, and blatant lack of respect for the movies it represents, The Oscars have completely lost sight of their ceremony’s importance. That is extremely dangerous for a film industry where two-thirds of Americans say they're going to the movies less often now than a few years ago, with a majority adding that they prefer watching films at home over going to the theater, according to a Harris poll.

DOOMED FROM THE START – OSCARS.COM CONFUSED ABOUT ITS OWN NOMINEES

The first signs of trouble came over a month before The Oscars premiered. When nominations were first posted online, Oscars.com confused its contenders. Amy Adams was listed as a Best Actress nominee for “Arrival” in place of Ruth Negga, who was nominated for “Loving.” Tom Hanks’ performance in “Sully” was also added to Best Lead Actor, giving the category an impossible six nominees.

ABC Digital promptly issued an apology that stated: "This morning, in an attempt to release breaking news as announced, ABC Digital briefly posted inaccurate nomination information on the Oscar.com website. The nominees announced by the Academy on Twitter were accurate. ABC quickly identified and corrected the errors. We apologize to the Academy, press and fans for any confusion."

Unfortunately, ABC Digital’s statement came too late, and the error was already buzzing online.

JIMMY KIMMEL BOMBED – AND STOLE – HIS JOKES

Jimmy Kimmel wasn’t the first talk show host to present The Oscars. In fact, Kimmel’s predecessors like Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman are notorious for being some of the best Oscars hosts in its 89 years. Despite the hype surrounding Kimmel, he will not be known as one of the ceremony’s greatest.

Even for the Hollywood A-listers, some of Kimmel’s political jokes didn’t cause much of a reaction. While one or two trolling jabs at Donald Trump such as his “Hey @realDonaldTrump u up?” tweet would have sufficed, as he asked Meryl Streep if she was wearing an Ivanka dress, it became overkill.

Most noticeably, Kimmel recycled a monologue joke from Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

"Andrew Garfield lost 40 pounds for his role in the movie ‘Silence,’" Kimmel said. "It was an astonishing physical transformation that hasn't been attempted since every actress in every role ever." The joke about double standards and body image sounded a little too like Poehler and Fey at the 2014 Golden Globes. Directed towards Matthew McConoughey, the comedians said: “"For his role in Dallas Buyers Club, he lost 45 pounds – or what actresses call, being in a movie."

Kimmel was also mocked for poking fun at a guest’s Asian-oriented name. When Kimmel asked a woman what her name was, she introduced herself as Yulree and said it rhymed with “jewelry.”

“I know it rhymes with jewelry!” Kimmel responded. “That’s some name.”

Kimmel then asked Yulree’s husband what his name was, which he said was “Patrick.”

“See, that’s a name!” said Kimmel.

There was an onslaught of backlash via Twitter where users expressed their disappointment in Kimmel putting down the woman’s heritage. “Names like Mahershala and Yulree confuse @jimmykimmel. He prefers a real name like Patrick. And I thought the #Oscars weren’t racist anymore,” wrote viewer Chris Chew.

MOANA WON’T BE SAYING “YOU’RE WELCOME”

While not a disaster, there was still a small flub during “Moana” star and real-life Disney princess Auli'i Cravalho’s rendition of “How Far I’ll Go.” After an introduction from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Cravalho began her musical interlude among a color guard team acting out the scenery from her Disney movie. Mid-way through her performance, Cravalho was hit in the head with one of the flags.

It didn’t interrupt the song, but was still telling of the choreography at an event rehearsed months in advance.

THE AUDIENCE LITERALLY BORED TO SLEEP

Chrissy Teigan was spotted sleeping during Casey Affleck’s acceptance speech for the Best Lead Actor award. While there have been speculations as to whether she was protesting Affleck’s win or just tired as a new mother, she was clearly caught fast asleep on the shoulder of her husband, John Legend.

It didn’t seem to matter to Teigan that she was sleeping through one of the most prestigious events celebrating film and art – a ceremony that had nominated a movie her very own husband had starred in. A few hours later Teigan tweeted: “just woke up what happened.”

Apparently that comment made Teigan a funny, relatable mom rather than blatantly disrespecting the entire Academy.

IN MEMORIAM INCLUDED A LIVING PERSON

In one of the most unusual errors during the 2017 Oscars, the “In Memoriam” segment of the evening including a living person. During a video honoring the deaths of prestigious contributors to the film industry, there was the face of a very-much-alive producer.

On the picture that was meant to honor the late costume designer Janet Patterson, a photograph of Jan Chapman was used in error.

"I was devastated by the use of my image in place of my great friend and long-time collaborator Janet Patterson," Chapman said in a statement to Variety. "I had urged her agency to check any photograph which might be used and understand that they were told that the Academy had it covered. Janet was a great beauty and four-time Oscar nominee and it is very disappointing that the error was not picked up. I am alive and well and an active producer.”

THE BUS TOUR SKIT INVITED A CONVICTED SEXUAL PREDATOR

Kimmel surprised a bus load of tourists by taking a detour straight to Dolby Theater. Among the crowd was an excited man by the name of Gary Coe who stole the hearts of millions by kissing Nicole Kidman’s hand and telling unusual jokes. After further investigating Coe’s past, he turned out to be a registered sex offender since 1978 when he was convicted of attempted rape by force or fear.

In fact, Coe was just days out of a 20-year prison sentence due to California’s “three-strikes” law, the Chicago Tribute reported. Coe was arrested for multiple felonies including two grand-theft convictions.

It seemed that The Oscars didn’t exactly background check their guests.

THE WORST BEST PICTURE

The most famous mistake of the night came when “La La Land” was announced as Best Picture when the real winner was “Moonlight.” The incident occurred when Warren Beatty was handed a duplicate card for Best Actress with Emma Stone’s name alongside “La La Land.” When Beatty hesitated after opening the envelope, he handed the card to Faye Dunaway. Dunaway apparently saw the words “La La Land” and announced the film as the winner.

Chaos on the stage ensued, and eventually it was announced that “Moonlight” had won. The disgruntled “La La Land” cast was ushered away, and left viewers confused as to whether this was another Kimmel skit.

Enter: “I blame Steve Harvey.”

Not only did this take away spotlight from “Moonlight,” but it ultimately embarrassed both casts that worked extremely hard for their nomination.

"At the end of the day we made a human error," Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Oscars monitor, told USA TODAY. "We made a mistake. What happened was, our partner on the left side of the stage, Brian Cullinan...handed the wrong envelope to (actor) Warren Beatty. And then the second we realized that we notified the appropriate parties and corrected the mistake."

And where was this culprit Brian Cullinan moments before Beatty and Dunaway went on stage?

He was photographed engulfed in his phone and taking pictures of Emma Stone.

WHY CARE ABOUT THE OSCARS?

A popular mantra of those who refuse to watch The Oscars is that it is just a fancy pat-on-the-back to Hollywood A-listers. What these people forget is that film is art. Art is part of our culture.

When our society discusses art, we are preserving something in history far more than ourselves. These are tales about heroism, brotherhood, family, and loss. We may think actors are overpaid and the entire ceremony is a political statement, but we also forget that a celebration of art is never wasted.

The Oscars needs an overhaul of its priorities. Gone are the days of glamour and old-fashioned galas. When the Academy decides to reevaluate its purpose, the ratings for their show will begin to rise again.

HOW IT SHOULD CHANGE

The Oscars used to be a formal event. First televised in 1953, the ceremony was much more gaudy than Justin Timberlake singing throwbacks and running through the lobby. The goal was still to entertain, but it was presented in a more reserved way.

This doesn’t mean that to gain its dignity back all the actresses need to cover up their ankles. However, turning the ceremony back in to a formal event where guests didn’t sleep in the audience would be a great start.

The political atmosphere of The Oscars has also gotten out of hand and trivialized many achievements of the night. When #OscarsSoWhite was trending in 2016, many stars boycotted the ceremony for the lack of black representation. However, the night wasn’t just filled with jabs at the Academy – they were blatantly disrespectful to all.

When Sacha Baron Cohen announced the nominees for Best Picture, he described “The Room” as a movie about… “a room full of white people.” The movie was actually about a sexual assault survivor assimilating back in to society after being kidnapped for five years.

The Oscars needs a reboot. While it is fine to throw in a few pop culture references and political jokes, it is a time to represent art and talent. If The Oscars remembers it is more than trending hashtags, maybe they will reap a year of audiences returning to the theaters.

 

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