Credibility in The Oscars

Once an organization or person finds themselves in a crisis, it is crucial that they admit the mistake and make amends in order to preserve credibility and maintain the trust invested by publics.  As we immerse ourselves in award season there is much talk of the best picture nightmare from the 2017’s Oscars. If you’ll recall, La La Land was awarded Best Picture and as acceptance speeches were in the works, it was realized that Moonlight was the real winner and Warren Beatty announced the winner for best actress.

What is truly incredible is that in 89 years, this is the first time where a mix up of envelope occurred. There is a huge amount of preparation involved in the entire process of planning the award show. Selection of the academy is a grueling and take place through thorough process that occurs annually to ensure validity and reliability from each member.

The envelope stuffing process is top secret and held in an undisclosed location. Each envelope costs $200 to make. Envelopes containing the winners are duplicated and protected by Price Waterhouse and Coopers. There are police escorts for the envelopes and the separate copies take different routes to the award ceremony just in case something happens. Despite all of this preparation, somehow the wrong one landed in Beatty’s hands. Once the incorrect announcement was made it took several minutes for the correction and for the cast of Moonlight to get on stage and accept their award in a tarnished moment.

This year there are several new policies in place to avoid a similar fiasco from unfolding again. For the first time, presenters are required to have their envelopes double checked by stage managers. There is a new position that requires a person to memorize all of the awards and the winner’s names and to wait for any mistakes that might occur. All Price Waterhouse and Coopers accountants must be at rehearsals and they will not be allowed to use any cellphones during the ceremony to avoid the possibility of distraction.

What was most impressive about the Oscar blunder of last year was that the mistake was admitted within minutes of it occurring on live television. There was an almost, immediate barrage of apologies on the spot. Those involved were quick to admit their wrongdoing. They are taking initiative this year to stop the same mistake from happening again and the organization is making sure everyone sees the changes that are implemented.

This is to maintain credibility which is a crucial characteristic of the Oscars ceremony and the academy.  The Oscar rewards and measures excellence. That measurement must be accurate and reliable in order to promote a high caliber of art put into the world. The award encourages improvement in the arts and acknowledges important stories that reflect our on society. It is important that the organization responsible for fostering cultural discussion is held accountable for any mistakes, otherwise the arts are not pushed to their full potential. People look to the Oscars as a way to discuss art and culture almost as much as they look to the president to discuss politics and foreign affairs. It is a social phenomenon for our society and it must remain reliable.


sophia cleugh