Host Jimmy Kimmel probably had no idea what a landmark event last night’s Academy Awards telecast was going to be. While he and his staff planned light-hearted bits that included dropping candy on the audience and bringing in tourists from “the Hellmouth” (a.k.a. what I call the Hollywood & Highland structure), a different higher power plotted other shenanigans to occur.
Last night’s show led us down a path filled with a lot more questions than it answers. So let’s try to break this down now, shall we?
Casey Affleck’s win: Is talent more important than morals?
Comedian Jerrod Carmichael asked this important question in one of his recent comedy specials and I’m re-iterating it now.
History is repeating itself over and over again when it comes to the surprisingly grey answer to this difficult question. This issue has been shoved in front of our faces countless times before, but never has it been so evident than this year with both the nominations of Mel Gibson (for HACKSAW RIDGE’s direction), who’s been accused of being an anti-Semite, racist and a misogynist, and Casey Affleck (for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA’s actor in a leading role), who’s been accused of sexual harassment. And now that Affleck has won the coveted Oscar gold, this question still remains: “Is talent more important than morals?” It would seem that, “yes,” it is.
The Academy clearly has spoken its answer, awarding director Roman Polanski (who you can read about here) the trophy for best direction in 2003 for THE PIANIST. In 2012, they awarded Woody Allen, who’s been accused of sexual abuse, with Oscar gold for writing MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. Why would the Academy stop rewarding this this kind of abhorrent behavior now? Do you view this as a reward for bad behavior?
Of course, the key word here is “accused,” but sadly, we shrug and move on when we should really take the time to figure out the answer.
Why didn’t Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway just say they had the wrong envelope? What would’ve been the harm in that?
The pair of iconic Hollywood legends seem to be of the school of “the show must go on” thought. However, we are living in the day and age where admitting to mistakes – whether they are yours or someone else’s – matters a great deal. There would’ve been no harm in admitting the envelope was the wrong one when Beatty notices it first before handing it off to have Dunaway double check it. Instead, because of what I can only assume is due to ingrained politeness, it takes almost two minutes, and two acceptance speeches, before the stage hands to scramble to set it right. It then takes LA LA LAND producer Jordan Horowitz’s badass skills, cultivating calm within chaos to announce MOONLIGHT as the true winner – and then another few seconds for the card to be shown.
Beatty explained his reasoning then and there, which, kudos to him, was a very necessary thing to do. That said, it still doesn’t answer the question of why it was read aloud if he knew it wasn’t correct. Which leads to my next question…
Why wasn’t this clarified immediately?
Why didn’t Warren Beatty storm the mic and announce MOONLIGHT as the true winner? Why didn’t Kimmel barge in to say there was a mishap? It seemed as if no one was going to announce MOONLIGHT as the real winner until Horowitz did. Again, I think the answer goes back to an old-school sense of politeness. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news – and no one wants to admit to a catastrophic mistake.
PricewaterhouseCoopers has put out an apology (in the tweet below) in which they – rightfully so – take blame in the error, but say it was corrected “immediately.” My stopwatch begs to differ with the word, “immediately.” Those precious seconds (almost 111 of them!) before the stagehand comes out are an eternity on stage, causing embarrassment to losing party and robbing the winners of their pure moment in the spotlight.
— PwC LLP (@PwC_LLP) February 27, 2017
Back in 1964, a similar incident happened when the envelopes were switched on Sammy Davis Jr. and there, you can see, the problem was rectified “immediately.”
Can we please move on to celebrating MOONLIGHT’s amazing win?
It seems that the narrative the media is spinning this morning is more about LA LA LAND’s shocking “win-no win” than it is about this revelatory underdog winning. For example, take a look at what @ValerieComplex noted:
Look at this shit. 7-8 different outlets and only 1 has a pic of the cast/crew. But it’s not about their win or their speech. This is BS pic.twitter.com/TrurCvMxTt
— VzA (@ValerieComplex) February 27, 2017
There’s now controversy over the controversy. I’m not saying it’s not justified. I’m also not saying these things are or are not mutually exclusive. I’m just saying, “here we are, but for the betterment of society, we need to move on from the flub and celebrate what should be acclaimed.”
So now, let’s celebrate MOONLIGHT’s historic win! I’m ecstatic that director Barry Jenkins’ widely praised, highly evocative film about a young gay male searching for his identity has won the coveted trophy in a time where our political landscape isn’t looking nearly as open-minded and friendly towards real people on this same journey. In an age where representation and opportunities matter, this is a groundbreaking win – one I’m praying will inspire others to tell their own similar stories.