At least you can’t say the Oscars didn’t break new ground this year.
Embarrassing doesn’t begin to describe it.
After a whole evening of unfunny jokes delivered by a tired and bored-looking Jimmy Kimmel, the most glamorous awards show in the world reached a fitting climax when Faye Dunaway incorrectly announced La La Land as the winner of best picture.
Talk about a bad buzz -- this was supposed to be the year of Trump-bashing, and Hollywood celebrating how cool and competent they are in comparison.
This was supposed to be the year when topical humour is so easy that jokes write themselves. Just go up to the mic and mention Donald Trump, the buffoon-in-chief, and let the smug liberals laugh.
Mention things like walls, and use words like overrated (wink-wink, Trump uses that word a lot).
As we have known for a while now, it is just that easy to take potshots at Trump. But if the theme of your whole night is someone else’s incompetence, make sure you have your own act together. Of course, the disaster started before the show began: Someone made the incomprehensibly stupid decision of letting Jimmy Kimmel host the Oscars. There is no shortage in America of intelligent comedians up to the job of hosting the Oscars. Jimmy Kimmel has never been one of them.
On Oscar night, his idea of a running joke was to keep talking about his personal feud with Matt Damon. It included classy jabs such as calling Damon a “dumbass,” and playing the exit music while Matt Damon was up to present. Har har.
Then there was the juvenile bit on Meryl Streep, an extended piece of sarcasm that will make zero sense once you take it out of its political context, or to someone who doesn’t care about Trump’s showbiz-related tweets.
But just as Donald Trump’s assessment of Streep carries no weight, nobody needs a sorry excuse of a comedian to defend her either. We know how good Meryl Streep is. Can we for once not talk about the president and talk about this year’s movies please?
Such hopes were in vain.
But what’s done is done. Three people gave their speeches after La La Land’s fake win, speeches that will probably haunt them for years to come
Kimmel was on a roll: “We don’t discriminate against people based on what countries they come from. We discriminate against them based on their age and weight.”
And yet, the sacred duty of announcing best picture wasn’t given to two young, hot people. It was given to screen legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, neither of them spring chickens.
After opening the envelope, while the audience sat on the edges of their seats in anticipation of the single biggest moment of the night, Beatty looked unsure.
He paused, and with a confused expression, looked at Dunaway. Dunaway looked at the envelope and blurted out “La La Land.”
Ageing Hollywood legend fail.
Yes, they were given the wrong envelope. Someone was criminally negligent. Kimmel should not be allowed on air again (even if this was not directly his fault). But could the situation have been salvaged?
Could Beatty have, for example, thought on his feet and made a joke about how he was given the wrong envelope? Photographic evidence shows the back of the red envelope in his hand clearly says “actress in a leading role.”
It’s not their fault -- accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers has admitted guilt. But could the situation have still been contained?
Maybe check the label before you go up there? When the envelope at hand didn’t make sense, maybe make a Kimmel-style joke about how Matt Damon was trying to sabotage the event, and demand the correct envelope?
But what’s done is done. Three people gave their speeches after La La Land’s fake win, speeches that will probably haunt them for years to come. An industry that is all about putting on shows has put on a dreadful show. Nevertheless, both La La Land and Moonlight had their share of wins, and Damien Chazelle, becoming the youngest best director winner in Oscar history, has nothing to cry about.
Kimmel summed it up in the end: “I blame myself for this ... I knew I would screw this show up, I really did.”
Yes you did, Jimmy. Next time you know you will botch something, maybe don’t accept the job?
Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.