While the majority of the 89th Academy Awards took place without a hitch, the final announcement of the evening – the coveted Best Picture award – was an unprecedented disaster, as we all know. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the overall winner, when – in reality – Moonlight had taken the top prize. Much was said about this, for example:
“I opened the envelope and it said: Emma Stone, La La Land,” Beatty explained. “That’s why I took such a long pause and looked at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
Conversely, Emma Stone has claimed she was holding her Best Actress announcement card, telling press backstage: “I was also holding my Best Actress in a leading role card that entire time.
While exactly what happened remains a mystery – and Faye has declined to comment on the situation to reporters, a past interview with the two Oscars balloting co-leaders – the only two people who know the final Oscars results – is very revealing. “The producers decide what the order of the awards will be,” Brian Cullinan told Medium. “We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha [Ruiz] has all 24 in hers. “We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn’t sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you’re giving the presenter the right envelope.” A mistake is almost impossible to happen in these conditions.
A very politicised ceremony with ‘foreigners’ –dressed as unsophisticated tourists- invited as ‘visitors’ to meet their idols allegorised how welcoming is Hollywood to immigrants. Of course, President Donald Trump wasn’t going to remain silent and having been the subject of several pointed messages and quite a few jokes during the ceremony, he end up accusing them of not doing their job by focussing too much on politics instead of on the logistics of their show.
But was it a mistake or an attempt to make Hollywood ‘relevant’ again?. The fact that almost all outfits on the red carpet were hideous makes me question whether there was an inversion of values as a marketing strategy. Before the show, a feud between Karl Lagerfeld and Meryl Street broke out after he accused the actress of dropping a dress designed by him (Chanel) because someone else paid her more. So firstly this top end scandal, secondly, a red carpet deliberately arranged to be bitched about and finally, the monumental ‘Best Picture’ mix up. Needless to say that cats, bloopers and video games are the most viewed type of events in Youtube which means, in the world.
But last week, not only was a scandalous one for Hollywood but also for Youtube. PewDiePie, Youtube’s biggest star (with the highest number of subscribers), was accused by the Wall Street Journal of racism and more speficially, Nazism. The row started after Pew DiePie made a couple of practical jokes with Nazi undertones. For example, he paid a group of hindu people a ‘fiver’ for being filmed with a sign that said: ‘Kill All Jews!’. This created a massive row between his young fans and traditional media.
PewDiePie decided to defend himself uploading a couple of videos where instead of apologising, he showed how the readership of traditional media like the Wall Street Journal has been losing ground against Youtube. In one of the videos, he looks at the camara and says: ‘Maybe they will stop attacking me if I make a hostile take over of their company. Although, I don’t think it might be a good investment if we bear in mind its plummeting profitability’.
Bravado aside, PewDiePie is the symptom of a bigger reality which is that Youtube is taking over the way we entertain ourselves. Popular Youtubers are big enough to challenge traditional media. Youtube, as a gigantic media business, has just announced his pay-per-view TV services which aims at competing not only with TV but also with newspapers.
Since the Second World War, Hollywood has dominated the entertainment world. It has been the undisputable leader of the West’s production of symbols. That is not the case any more and maybe that is why I truly believe that the mix up was no mix up but a very rehearsed publicity stunt to save Hollywood from the fact that very few of us were actually watching the Oscars. J A T