This week, it was announced that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—the people who bring you the Oscars—will continue to retain PricewaterhouseCoopers as its official Oscars accounting firm. For those of you at home, PricewaterhouseCoopers (or PwC for those in “the biz”) is the firm that fucked up this year’s Oscars. As you no doubt remember, a PwC person handed Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the Best Actress envelope instead of the Best Picture envelope, which resulted in La La Land inaccurately being named Best Picture instead of the real winner, Moonlight.
The news of PwC’s continued employment with the Oscars officially puts an end to probably the biggest, most headline-inducing Oscars moment in the award’s history. OR DOES IT?
Really, it puts a neat little bow on the most seamlessly, nefariously staged spectacle since Justin Timberlake derobed Janet Jackson and let her take the fall for it or that time the CIA killed James Dean.
Here’s To The Fools Who Dream
That’s right. I can reveal here, exclusively, that the Oscars moment that dominated the news cycle for maybe 10 days and gave us at least three separate metaphors for the supposedly shifting racial dynamics of Hollywood in the era of Trumpian oppression and white supremacy was a lie. A perfectly executed scheme produced by the world’s greatest, though increasingly obsolete, film industry. I hate to snap you out of ur peaceful neo-liberal capitalism-induced slumber but woke up and smell the coffee. And welcome to SHOWBIZ.
Despite the Academy inviting very exciting person Jimmy Kimmel to host, the 89th Oscars was the second-lowest rated telecast in Oscars history. This is nothing especially new. Even though it showcases literally the most successful and popular celebrities in America, the Oscars have been on a downward ratings trajectory for years. Perhaps we’re all too busy looking at our phones to appreciate the real art before us. Perhaps we’re just too jaded by the mindless self indulgence of Hollywood’s elite. Either way, the Academy clearly knew this year was going to be a wash. Why else would they ask Kimmel to host? No, the focus was on next year. They wanted a thrilling moment that would reinstate audience loyalty, something to infuse a ceremony of convention and tradition with a sense of the unexpected.
Something bigger than Ellen’s selfie, but not as big as 9/11.
Technically, the moment was already there, waiting. Moonlight, a film about the life of a queer black man from Miami, was the David to Pentatonix on Ice: La La Land’s Goliath. It was slated to possibly be the first LGBTQ-themed film to win Best Picture. Its director would have been the second black person to direct a Best Picture-winning film. All of this seems like interesting stuff, but no—Hollywood, its ego unable to tame its insatiable Michael Bay-infused id, needed more. And more we would get.
Crazy As They May Seem
The first sign that something sinister was up? “Gary from Chicago.” After teasing the audience with his latest dumb prank, Jimmy Kimmel spent an excruciating amount of time, almost seven whole minutes, on this fucking nonsense.
Why else would an awards show that already lasts far too long waste so much time on dumb bits like this and Kimmel’s endless feud with Matt Damon? Why are we giving Matt Damon any screen more time at all??? Simple: They needed to run the clock down. Jimmy Kimmel and ABC were just pawns in the Academy’s game, feasting on YouTube clicks and blissfully unaware of their involvement.
After more time-wasting moments—the most egregious being creeper Casey Affleck’s Best Actor win—it was finally time to give out the Best Picture award. As you may know, PwC maintains control of two briefcases, each of which contains a copy of every envelope for every award of the night. The PwC employees holding the brief cases, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, stood on either side of the stage, handing the envelopes to the corresponding presenter. And for some reason, despite being specifically advised to not engage in social media until after the awards ceremony, Brian Cullinan, our fall guy, decided to take a photo of Emma Stone, who had just won Best Actress, and upload it to Twitter (it is now deleted because you gotta COMMIT to a role).
So. Did some accountant, right before the most important award of the most important night of the year if you care about this dumb shit, COMPLETELY IGNORE his sole duty of the night just to grab an awkward pic of a celeb and 20-some-odd retweets? OR did he complete his mission perfectly, sending out a diversion of a tweet and setting into motion the perfect trainwreck upon which the future of the Oscars was delicately standing?
Here’s To The Hearts That Break
Cullinan and Ruiz were both banned from working the Oscars in the future, but both are still partners at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has worked with the Oscars since 1934. THEY STILL HAVE JOBS! ERGO, IT WAS A RUSE.
(It should be noted that the Academy has updated its protocol in order to avoid such a “disaster” in future. It decided to ban electronic devices backstage, “improve the identification of the categories on the awards envelopes”—which probably means, um, making the font bigger?—and post a third accountant who knows all the winners in the control room to notify the director if shit goes awry again. Which it won’t!! Unless it needs to.)
Anyway, on to the moment itself. First of all, giving the envelope to two elderly actors (Faye Dunaway is 76, and Warren Beatty turned 80 this week) seems suspicious. Now, I’m not saying old people can’t read, but the narrative of age and loss of sight fits a little too perfectly. It’s yet another excuse to fall back on.
I have reason to believe that Warren Beatty did not know this was happening—they had to make it look real, and Warren Beatty is not that good at realism. (Have you seen Bulworth?) But Faye Dunaway, star of Network, has a unique understanding of how to effectively assassinate someone(’s career) to create a ratings boosting television spectacle. When Warren saw the card read “Emma Stone, Best Actress” and buckled at the curveball thrown at him, Dunaway took control of the situation, pulled the trigger, and said the words, “La La Land.”
When asked, just hours later, at the Governor’s Ball about the flub, Dunaway responded, “I’m not going to speak of that. Warren is the right one.” Because she’s an icon—wham scam thank you ma’am.
Here’s To The Mess We Make
The fact that the team behind Moonlight did not get to give a proper acceptance speech, but somehow Warren Beatty took nearly 40 seconds to explain what had happened, further proves that this moment wasn’t about the triumph of queer, black art. It was about the white people who orchestrated this mess making a serious investment in the award ceremony’s future. Also, if they pulled this shit on a white film, PwC would have lost the Oscars contract, Brian Cullinan would have had to sacrifice his first born son, and the damn Dolby Theater would have been burned down in the name of justice and we all know it. Moonlight was the Oscars’ only chance.
And of course, because PwC did its job flawlessly, the Oscars will continue to work with it at least for next year (but probably forever because either they’re in some pre-WWII blood pact or maybe someone gave someone a handie in 1934, I don’t actually know how these deals are made). I suppose we’ll just have to wait for 2018 to see if the Oscars’ big gamble paid off. We’ll just have to see if people, intrigued by the idea that perhaps Hollywood isn’t so perfect and may actually provide something unpredictable, will tune in to next year’s broadcast. That clearly was the plan and motivation for everything I have laid out for you here.
Now that I’ve shared this Truth with you slumbering piglets suckling at the teat of BIG HOLLYWOOD, just know that if I disappear in the next few days, it’s because I pose too much of a threat to the white Academy establishment. That, or I’m PwC’s newest partner.