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Oscars debacle: You couldn't have made it up

CONFUSION: The moment when the 2017 Oscars hit a low point

FEELING SOMEWHAT blurry- eyed after getting up early for the Oscars, I was hit with more reasons to be tired by the time I fired up my laptop that morning.

Having already reported Faye Dunaway’s failure to comprehend that she had the wrong envelope and therefore called out the wrong winner (let’s call it a ‘mistake’ for now); the video footage of the blunder in question was scarce and nobody could quite make out what had happened until later in the morning.

After Warren Beatty’s confused look at said envelope, which was supposed to contain the winner for Best Picture, his joint announcer Dunaway strangely failed to investigate his confusion or his extra-long pause after that. Dunaway then proceeded to announce happily that cinematic musical, La La Land was the winner – when in fact the true victors were the team behind Moonlight, an inner-city slice of life depicting a gay black teen’s journey to self- awareness, starring Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali.

No matter how many checks and balances the Oscar backstage managers/sponsors Price Waterhouse Cooper put in place to stop something like this happening, there is no accounting for human error.

ERROR: Steve Harvey, who accidentally read out the wrong name when annoucing the winner of Miss World 2015

One take on this whole thing could be ‘anyone can make a mistake, for sure’. Look at Steve Harvey. One of the big ‘howevers’ is, though – the card Dunaway read out clearly said ‘Best Actress’, then ‘Emma Stone’ and then La La Land, so rather than realise she had been given the wrong envelope, Dunaway either ignored, didn’t notice or couldn’t read the first two lines.

So, what do we chalk this up to? A black LGBT narrative, directed by a black man at that, starring the first Muslim to win an Oscar earlier that evening had its moment taken away on purpose, out of sheer resentment and spite from an ageing institution accused of racism many times?

Or, was it a Harvey-esque case of somehow reading the completely wrong thing with a short-lived confidence before handlers arrive on the stage to correct it? Different theories abound on this one and if you’ve already picked yours it won’t matter what you read.


The mandate given to the night’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, was to make an opening speech that would ‘unify’ Americans who are still very raw from Trump’s daily doses of divisiveness.

In a genuine moment of grace and humble disbelief, director Barry Jenkins and the Moonlight team offered commiserations to the La La Land crew, who had already gotten through two speeches by the time things had been corrected.

The on-stage love-in between the two groups, (albeit brief), happened naturally - we hope - and has really given us all something to laugh and coo at.

The debacle even has lily-white conservatives reluctantly devising their own conspiracy theories as to why Moonlight could have easily been overlooked for their win altogether.

All that said then, Oscars 2017 has been pretty satisfactory on more than one level. Let’s see if the trend continues in 2018.

Andrea Photiou is Online Editor for The Voice.

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