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#BestPicture gaffe: Embrace the mistake

What if it was you who was responsible for handing the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty at the Oscars?

We will soon find out the details of what happened, and, spoiler alert, it won’t be all that interesting.

Bottom line: somebody screwed up.

What I’m watching for now is how PwC, the accounting firm responsible for securing the results at the Academy Awards for 83 years, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handle the fallout.

“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

This was the statement from PwC, more commonly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, at 3 a.m. Eastern, roughly three hours after the biggest on-air gaffe in TV history.

Typical fall-on-the-sword stuff there.

It’s hyperbole, but the conventional wisdom holds that a billion people around the world are watching the Oscars ceremony live. And even with that being an exaggeration, it’s hard to imagine that we don’t start at b- in terms of the number who are now aware of what happened.

So, how do you respond? If it’s me, I embrace it, personally, for a couple of reasons.

One, it happened, and there’s no undoing it at this point, obviously.

Two, everybody is talking about what happened. Now, yes, everybody is talking about it being the biggest mistake in TV history, but again, can’t take it back, right?

The overnight ratings are suggesting that the telecast was at a multi-year low in terms of viewers, tanking particularly in the coveted (by advertisers) 18-49 demo.

There are lots of reasons for this being the case – that the movies nominated aren’t the summer blockbusters that most people watch, primarily, but also that awards shows are typically, well, formulaic.

The drama, such as it is, comes down to which actor or director or writer or movie wins this award or that award or …

It ain’t the Super Bowl, is what I’m saying.

Not saying that you ever want something like this to happen again, but …

There’s another reason for people to watch next year. Because you never know.

Column by Chris Graham

  • Guest

    I watched the Oscars for the first time in 15 years. I felt it was unfortunate that all the win’s were overshadowed by the focus on that mistake. As I read your article, I can’t help but notice a missed reason for lower viewership: Politics.

    • That could be an issue. Numbers have been trending down for several years, so there have to be other issues at play as well.

      I might be overstating this, but the kinds of movies that get nominated for Oscars aren’t the ones that necessarily appeal to mainstream viewers. Which is to say, if “Moonlight” or “La La Land” isn’t your kind of movie, why would you be watching?

      The movies that get nominated are generally the “smart” movies, so I’d expect the viewers to be the “smart” people. Who I’d expect to eat up the politics snark that we saw throughout last night’s show.

      • Guest

        Agreed. In fact, we just watched “Arrival”. I found it to be fairly interesting. My other family members thought it was the worst movie they had ever seen. So, they definitely were shocked it won. I guess Hollywood might need to re-think their award shows. Personally, I was thrilled to see that Moonlight won. I was also impressed at how La La Land handled the disappointment.

        • I still need to see “Arrival,” “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” And “Lion.” It’s hard because our local theater (awesome as it is) tends to showcase the more mass-appeal movies. (I guess they like to make money or something. Curses!)

          Even with the lower TV ratings over the past few years, I read that ABC brought in an estimated $115 million in ad revenues last night, so they’re likely not complaining.


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