It won’t be a long conversation.
So as you’re all no doubt aware by now, there was a colossal mistake at the 89th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway came out to present the signature award of the show, the Academy Award for the best motion picture of the year. To simplify things let’s just refer to said award as the Oscar, since that has been the nickname for the trophy presented to winners since at least the 1930’s. Presenters are given an envelope prepared by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers with the name of the winner, a winner chosen by the vote of 6,000+ members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The winners are a carefully kept secret and the envelopes themselves are guarded more closely than POTUS guards the national security of the United States. Until the envelope is opened nobody other than PWHC knows who won, and there’s genuine tension as the audience and presenters wait with baited breath to learn the results.
This year it all went horribly wrong in a way that was unintentionally hilarious. Nobody has yet explained how this happened, but Beatty and Dunaway were given the WRONG envelope as they walked out on stage. A confused Warren Beatty examined the envelope, which said that Emma Stone won for “La La Land,” but that was the Oscar winner for Best Actress. It’s possible the movie could have won best picture as well, but the envelope would not have had the name of an actor inside either way. He showed it to Faye Dunaway, who announced the movie as the winner, and the producers and directors assembled on stage to give their acceptance speech. Before long they were interrupted by people producing the TV show to explain they had made a mistake, and that the real winner of the best picture was “Moonlight.” PricewaterhouseCoopers had to apologize immediately after the show aired.
For many this immediately brought to mind the Miss Universe 2015 pageant, where presenter Steve Harvey made an error and announced the runner up in the pageant instead. Ariadna Gutierrez had already accepted the crown when they announced that there was a problem, the actual winner Pia Wurtzbach came out, and the previous year’s winner had to take the crown off of Gutierrez and present it to Wurtzbach. Harvey was roundly criticized for this mistake, even though much like the Academy Awards, the fault was not solely his given how it was produced, with someone over a headset in his ear giving him directions about both the teleprompter and the card with the winner’s name.
Those same people who raked Steve Harvey over the coals for his mistake (which he apologized for on air, and multiple times immediately after it aired) should turn around and apologize to HIM after last night’s Oscar for Best Picture was botched. If the most overproduced, most guarded and secured, most overblown of all awards shows other than the Grammys can get it THAT WRONG then Harvey’s mistake in hindsight seems like much less of an offense. Unless you are going to replace everybody from the presenters to the accountants to the producers to the show runners with robots, mistakes can and WILL happen. We are all only human. I felt bad for Beatty and Dunaway being given the wrong envelope but no more or less so than I did for Harvey being given a teleprompter and a card to read at the exact same time. The lesson to learn in both cases is that nobody is infallible and we should accept mistakes such as these with kindness – we are all equally capable of making mistakes and would want the same kindness toward us. “Judge not lest ye may be judged.”