Oscars 2017: #Envelopegate or Staged-gate?

In the biggest plot twist of Oscars history, the Academy awarded Moonlight the Best Picture instead of the previously announced La La Land on Feb. 26. A black film (second in history) and the first LGBT one currently holds this year’s highest honor in film with its historic win.

When it comes to prestige and the highest honor in Hollywood, there’s nothing that resonates more in the film industry and in entertainment than the Academy Awards – more commonly known as the Oscars.

However, the Best Picture announcement fiasco brought different kinds of reaction (with viral memes all around Twitter) to the awards show from viewers worldwide. While the LA Times reports that this has been the lowest rating in viewership in nine years, Oscars night garnered undue attention because of this exact blip. As opposed to getting viewers for the actual show and the films honored over the past year, it was the “oops” moment seen and heard around the world that had people talking.

Was it on purpose?

The main questions circulating seems to be the public’s concern on the whys and hows an error like this could happen during such a big event and who the main culprit is. The alternative and more appropriate question to ask – just maybe – is why should we even care at all as an audience, as entertainment consumers? More importantly, was any of it even real? If so, is that the main reason we care so much, or is it something else entirely?

As someone who writes about entertainment as a self-professed film junkie – especially of indie movies (independent films) – it’s not hard to be a skeptic, considering how people I know who are not even remotely interested in films are now talking to me about Moonlight or La La Land after Sunday night’s blunder. As CBS Miami reports, what if it was all staged? Didn’t they need the ratings after all?

Now what?

Granted, with the past two years, we went from OscarsSoWhite in 2015 and 2016 (where it was only The Revenant director, Alejandro González Iñárritu who was not a Caucasian nominee), to Oscars Not So White in 2017.

As an advocate for more – if not, proper – representation of women, people of color, and women of color in media, the Oscars was actually a little bit better in its 2017 representation than last year’s nominees. Although, better doesn’t necessarily mean diversity is present. Will this track continue on in the future?

To sum up a bigger conversation, it can be argued that today’s Hollywood is not just white, it’s black and white. If you’ve lived in Los Angeles and Southern California alone, you know by experience that this simply isn’t true. There are so many more stories yet to be told: the stand alone Asian story, the Mexican story, and a trifecta of people of color living together.

In the end, the media has a huge influence in the direction that our society goes because with attention comes power. Everyone wants their story told and if it’s not reflected on screen, what does this say about our society in general?

I don’t think, however, that much can be done with hope alone, but hope in action. We should do more than just demand, we should also create and allow our voices to be heard and our faces seen.

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