Monday, March 06, 2017

The trial of the Oscar snafu

Okay, so two employees of Price-Waterhouse goofed up and handed a celebrity the wrong envelope at the Oscars. Since then they’ve been outed and dragged through the press and social media. There have even been death threats. I’m not going to mention their two names. They’ve been singled out enough. But I thought to myself, what if some idiot tried to actually carry it out. For purposes of this blog and the hope that some sanity in the world still exits, he failed, but is now on trial for Attempted Murder.   Imagine being the attorney defending that moron.
ATTORNEY: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Attempted Murder is a serious charge, even in the south. For one to take another person’s life, there are precious few reasons why any God fearing individual can justify it. Not just because of our laws of the land but the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not kill.” I don’t know if it’s the first commandment but it’s sure in the top five. Way above “don’t covet thy nanny or neighbor’s wife,” I know that.

So for me to stand before you today and ask you to empathize and even forgive such unspeakable behavior, I darn well better have a good reason. And I do. A reason that I believe any reasonable human being would understand and accept.

The Price-Waterhouse employee did something so heinous, no unconscionable, so potentially destructive to society as we know it and imagine it in the future that any rational intelligent human being would have to question whether said employee deserved to live.

For this wasn’t just running over six people in a crosswalk or forgetting to screw in a bolt which resulted in a manned rocket exploding. Oh no, this was way worse.

The alleged victim recklessly and carelessly and without any thought to the irreparable damage he would do to the world as we know it – handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope at the 2017 Oscars. The result was apocalyptic, if I may downplay it. Before literally millions and figuratively billions of people around the globe the wrong movie was named for Best Picture of the Year.

I remind the jury of the immediate aftermath. National treasure Warren Beatty was made to appear foolish. America’s Sweetheart Faye Dunaway was duped into announcing the wrong name. Host Jimmy Kimmel was unable to get big laughs on his saver jokes. Wives were thanked who had no business being thanked. People with headsets were actually on camera. Viewers who filled out their Oscar pools in ink now had messy forms. The Academy of Arts & Science, an organization so protective of its image that it once hired Seth MacFarlane to host the Oscars, was embarrassed. There were snarky tweets and derisive comments from bloggers. The booth announcer gave the wrong statistics.  Need I go on?  I'll stop so you can sleep at night. 

This was such an egregious error that people were talking about it the next day. And remember, it was on after midnight in the east when most people were asleep already.

I think it’s safe to say that the snafu set the entire world off-kilter. This was the Best Picture award, not just Best Make-Up. Viewers develop strong attachments to these films, they live and die based on what awards they receive.  Their entire self-worth is wrapped up in their box office receipts.  What happened was a personal affront to billions if not millions of moviegoers. One can already see a permeating national depression. Sales of anti-depressants are way up, more people are starting therapy – what else could possibly cause this other than confusion over an Academy Award announcement?

So ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to reconsider, even those of you who are in the MOONLIGHT camp and resent that your producers didn’t have more time to thank their wives, I ask you to put everything in perspective, see the big picture, and find my client not guilty. Or if he is guilty, give the judge the wrong envelope. Thank you.


Andrew said...

"Wives were thanked who had no business being thanked. People with headsets were actually on camera."

You've still got it, Ken. Great stuff.

Peter said...

Some of the hysteria in the wake of the Oscars was truly ridiculous. Probably the most absurd and frankly downright offensively stupid was a piece here in the UK alleging that the mistake was yet another example of white people overshadowing a black movie.

WHAT?!! It was a fucking error, you complete moron! It was not a deliberate conspiracy!

Race baiting of this sort devalues the cases of real racism in society.

Terrence Moss said...

PWC should never have released their names.

Anonymous said...

"I'll stop so you can sleep at night." Thank you, mighty decent of you. Oh the horror of it all! ;).


blinky said...

Outrage is the new black.
It feels so good to be outraged about anything and everything all the time. I am extremely outraged right now that there is nothing happening at this very second that makes me outraged.
I need to check my Twitter feed. There is always good outrage fodder there. Yes! There it is. Thank you Mr President. I am thoroughly outraged. That is all.

Pete Grossman said...

Thanks for the laughs this Monday morning. Great payoff (not that you need me to tell you that - just an appreciation for your skill and talent). This leads me to a FRIDAY QUESTION:

It used to be the Best Picture winner greatly increased millions in revenue - making people and the distributor of the movie a lot more money. In this age of digital deluge where we tell ourselves, Ah, I'll wait until I can get it on cable, online or while I'm slingshotting around the moon in Elon Musk's latest hobby, in your opinion, does the Best Picture win mean as much financially as it used to? If it does, the consequences for the screw up could be a heavy price. Thoughts?

Stephen Marks said...

You saved the best line for last, "....give the judge the wrong envelope." So the post is obviously more of a commentary from Ken on how self-indulgent and hypocritical the awards have become than a bit about what happened, but I'm not giving Culligan Man a pass on this one (I don't think Ken wants us to use Brian's real name).

Should he be fired? No. Think about this. Culligan Man was acting like a wonderstruck idiot in front of some famous people and now has to pay the price the rest of his life. He was tweeting, smoozing, bragging, red carpet posing, everything he was not suppose to do during work. He pushed the envelope in respect to his job description and, well, insert joke here. The price he pays? For the rest of his life, I think he's 50 so let's assume he lives to be 75, everytime he sees the word "Oscar", he's fucked inside.

Oscar's 2018. Talk up, press picks, underdogs, Golden Globes lead up to and Academy awards given starts in September and runs to March. That's 7 months of him trying to avoid anything about it so he doesn't sink into a deep depression. Plus the added bonus of him being the butt of Bruce Valanch jokes at next year's Oscars. You know damn well when the two presenters are about to open the best picture envelope in 2018 they will pause and say something like "Ah, are you sure it's the right one" or something like that. A kick in Culligan Mans gut.

Oscar Wilde, Oscar Madison, Oscar Meyer weiners, fuck me the guy can't even go the grocery store and buy weiners anymore without wanting to Robin Williams himself. Pretty soon Oscar Pistorious will be up for parole after serving time for murdering his girlfriend, headline news, but Culligan Man needs to somehow avoid it. His grandkids want to watch Sesame Steet with him, Oscar the Grouch comes on, bang, he's fucked. His wife will never look at him the same way. I feel sorry for him. Remember being dumped by a girl you loved, then for weeks after going around trying to avoid things that reminded you of her. Favorite restaurant, type of car she drove, "our" song, perfume she wore, movies she loved, etc. This is a million times worse!

I have a solution though Culligan Man. Change your name to Bill Buckner. Everything Buckner has endured pales compared to the hell this guy will suffer for the next 25 years. The least we can do is let him keep a job at PWC.

Anonymous said...

Seeing a creepy-looking man, later learned to be a very recently released felon and convicted attempted rapist, kissing Nicole Kidman's hand, to her apparent delight, was the best Oscar Moment of the decade. Jimmy Kimmel is fundamentally, and essentially lowbrow. He took the talk show format down quite a few notches, so of course I expected him to do the same with the Oscars, and he didn't disappoint.
Kimmel is like hiring your plumber to be officiate your wedding. It would be initially funny, but ultimately depressing. By the time you realized you made a horrible mistake, the ceremony is just beginning. First you blame him, then you blame yourself.

Anonymous said...

What? Something happened at the end of the Oscars? I've already forgotten who won what, so it makes no difference...

Peter said...

Friday question

With the recent trend for doing TV shows based on movies (Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, Bates Motel, Rush Hour etc), do you think Volunteers could work as a comedic drama series?

Julia said...

Nicely put Ken.

All your readers have written sympathetic to that accountant.

But his biggest mistake was not about handing out the wrong envelope, but failing to go on stage and rectify the mistake. The stage manager had to intervene when it was the accountant's job (both).

His first mistake was human. But not rectifying it was failing in his DUTY for which he is paid.

He is old not some greenhorn. With age one becomes mature and confident in handling these tense situations right? That's why he is head of that company for that region. If you simply get scared with such situations and need to be pushed onstage to rectify it, then why become a leader for a group of people?

Lance said...


Yes I agree race-baiting is wrong.

But if this person had been a Black man or Asian, would he have continued in his job? Would he still be earning his millions as the head of the office of that region? Will his juniors and sub-ordinates still take his orders, someone who can't hand out the correct envelopes and sits still when the shit hits the ceiling?

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

The Oscars know that most times bad publicity is GOOD publicity.

Last year's unfounded-outrage-publicity of the Oscars being purposely unblack-ish was used this year to get people to be interested in the nominees this year.

However, in the end it hurt the reputation of the Oscars, and unfortunately cast a poor rumor. Last year's publicity made it seem like the Oscars were including numerous actors in order to make up for last year. The Black nominees and pictures deserved to be there. If anything, Viola Davis deserved to win the best ACTRESS.

Joe said...

Still hate Seth MacFarlane for those Jewish jokes huh Ken?

See the video on YouTube - everyone can be heard laughing during the TED bit. The camera doesn't show them because they are all looking at the sidescreen to see the CGI bear. If they had shown the audience you could have seen that all were laughing.

Mike said...

I found the article @Peter cited to be fine. The mixup overshadowed Moonlight's moment in the spotlight, if Oscars have any meaning. The article states this and does not allege conspiracy. I watch these films vicariously through the BBC's excellent film review programme. The reviewers' opinion was that the Oscars needed Moonlight more than Moonlight needed the Oscars. Just as well, as it happens.

I've no sympathy for the accountant(s). A regional head invites himself to the stage of the biggest media bash, then tweets photos of stars while failing to perform the most elementary of tasks. I expect he's already got an agent to translate this into guest spots on late-night chat shows.

A better topic for a sketch would be the Monday morning management meeting at the accountants' regional office. Or the vicious social media abuse that a gymnast suffered at the recent Olympics for failing to place her hand over her heart while singing the anthem, upsetting her & affecting her subsequent performance.

MikeN said...

Perhaps they shouldn't have corrected it, and just announced it the next day...

Brian said...


What if the accountant had been Black?

- Then he wouldn't have been singled out or thrown under the bus. Academy would not have banned him from next year.


(On a lighter note like that bear said) If he had been Jewish?

- He would been nominated for some category the next year or made some studio head and given a private jet for the next secret Synagogue meeting....

Anonymous said...

For all you motorists out there, especially you milennials, this was perhaps a brief teachable moment on social media distraction, but it will likely be a life-changer for Mr. Cullinan. As Ken notes, such offences are commonly punishable by death, at least metaphorically speaking. At retirement he should probably not expect a gold watch from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

But in Hollywood, capital punishment rarely ends with death.

His Hollywood persona will assume mythic proportions, something akin to that of the Flying Dutchman, the ship in maritime legend that haunted the seas around the Cape of Good Hope, fated to sail forever luring sailors and ships to their destruction. In Cullinan’s case, consider that his name and ignominy may forever be synonymous with epic failure in the Los Angeles accounting community - he is destined to become to West Coast accountants what Steve Bartman is to Chicago Cub fans. Of course in no Hollywood restaurant will he ever again be safe from the censorious glances and reproachful whispers from his fellow diners, who will avoid him more than if he had Ebola.

And on the day he dies, his obituary, which might otherwise have been a small footnote in the Los Angeles Times, will probably instead be a major entry, complete with a retelling of the whole sordid 2017 Academy Award affair. His death may even make it across the country to the obit pages of The New York Times and Washington Post, with a fitting headline, something like “Accountant Responsible for Academy Award Fiasco Dies.” At least for that brief moment, he will once again be the most talked about person in Hollywood, more so than any of the stars involved in the proceedings.

As Humphrey Bogart said of Elisha Cook Jr. in "The Maltese Falcon", "We need a fall guy." In this case it's left up to the hapless Mr. Cullinan to play the fall guy for the infamous Academy Award Disaster of 2017. He is the unfortunate victim of the irony that, while many come to Hollywood to find the spotlight and fail, occasionally the spotlight finds you. You have to feel a little sad for him. On second thought, maybe the whole thing would make for a good movie. Someone find out if he has an agent.

I'm Outraged! said...

For Gods sake,it's just an industry with delusions of world wide social importance congratulating itself, grown-ups getting little gold statues, celebs feeling 'special' and all that happened was some people thought that they had won a gong and were then told that they hadn't, big woop, not a disaster, not racist, not a tragedy and not important, but it was an entertaining moronic overreaction.

Joe said...

Ha Ha Haaa....... Thanks Brian, that reminds me that Chris Rock's hosting time he brought out some Asian and Jewish kids for some gag as accountants, those kids now need to take over the Oscars job.

Unknown said...

I think I get Warren Beatty as a "national treasure" (although I believe he passed his sell-by date some years back) ...

... but when was Faye Dunaway ever America's Sweetheart?

Everything I've ever read or heard about her indicates that she never fully recovered from playing Joan Crawford.

Putting it another way, anyone who wasn't able to get along with Robert Urich ...

For the rest of it, I think you've all milked this SNAFU to its natural limit.

Henry D said...

Thank you for the first sane thing I've read on this. Now do a piece on the other obvious part of this that no one is saying, which is that the presenters should have have noticed it was the wrong envelope. It said 'Emma Stone, La La Land' for crying out loud! As good as people think Stone is, she can't be a best picture. I guess no one wants to be mean to the presenters because they are old, but is it too much too expect one of them to have said, 'hey, this is the wrong envelope, it has the name of actress on it, not a movie.'

Richard Y said...

Why was the woman fired? She was on the other side of the stage and had nothing to do with the guy handing out the wrong envelope.

Johnny Walker said...

@Richard Nobody was fired.

Kaleberg said...

Anonymous has a good point. This accountant will have an obituary of note. It'll be like the one of a baseball player who drops the ball once in an otherwise long and successful career. When he dies, the obituary is plain: "X Dies, Dropped Ball 50 Years Ago". It's a cruel world.