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The 2016 Academy Awards - The Oscars Dominate on Social Media

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2016 marks an interesting year for the Oscars, usually they don't start causing a social media stir until after they've aired, when people have had the chance to cry/dust off their soapboxes/behave like idiots. We still got all of that this time around, but even weeks before the event Twitter was up in arms. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy, framed around the striking lack of black nominees in virtually every category, churned up a massive storm, with many people condemning the awards online and many actors and film-makers resolving to boycott the night, including Will Smith.

It's fair to say that now the event is in the past tense, the outlook is somewhat different. The race issue was most certainly addressed, but plenty more went on besides. Mistakes were made, rages were raged, poignant speeches rocked the room and rippled out into the hashtag haze. So, here's a rundown of every big, social media-relevant moment in the 2016 Oscars.


Sam Smith Claims to be the First Openly Gay Oscar Winner, is Immediately Corrected

Basically everyone was expecting Lady Gaga to walk away with the Best Original Song award for 'Till it Happens to You', taken from The Hunting Ground. In a shocking upset, Sam Smith came away with the award for 'The Writing's on the Wall', from Spectre. This wasn't shocking simply because Gaga was the heavy favourite, but because everyone tended to agree that Smith's song was atrocious, especially after it transpired that Radiohead had originally recorded a song for the film, a song which was infinitely better.


The real trouble came when Smith took to the stage and said the following: "I read an article a few months ago by Sir Ian McKellen, and he said that no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar. If this is the case, even if it isn't the case, I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world."



What McKellen actually said, was that no gay man had even taken the Best Actor award home, and in fact, plenty of openly gay men have won awards in other categories, including the one Smith did. Some of them were happy to point that out, most notably Dustin Lance Black, who won in 2009 for his screenplay for Milk. His tweet, which also asked Smith to stop texting Black's fiancee, Tom Daley, started an avalanche of 'reaction face' responses as people tried to capture the awkwardness of the moment, the potency of Black's shutdown, or both.


Facebook Stream Beats ABC Stream

For a few years now, the livestreaming of additional footage has been an Oscars mainstay. Last year, Facebook partnered with ABC on this but this year they ran separate streams. The way it went could almost be a metaphor for the way media is changing - Facebook's stream was a rousing success, while ABC's was a total disaster.

Facebook's feed was watchable on the official academy page, alongside a slew of extra footage of the red carpet, winner interviews and whatever else. There aren't any official engagement figures yet but it seems fairly self evident that things went well. ABC's stream meanwhile, which was already limited to cable subscribers in a handful of major cities, completely shorted out during Chris Rock's opening monologue, causing thousands to jump on Twitter to express their outrage. 



Meanwhile, other facets of ABC (and Disney) were on a warpath, shutting down any and all illegal streams of the awards, deeply upsetting anyone outside of the US without any legal means to watch the show. It's understandable, but after fudging their legit stream, you can see how it suddenly looks a lot worse to start removing all the other options.



Whoopi Goldberg Mistaken for Oprah Winfrey

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You just could not have picked a worse time, Total Beauty, seriously. As previously mentioned, this year's awards were already steeped in racial controversy, and the Academy were doing all they could to address it fairly, but the same couldn't be said of some others. Mistaking one black woman for another black woman would have looked terrible regardless of what else was doing on, but mistaking a very well known black woman for another one who looks absolutely nothing like her, in the midst of everything else, was stupid beyond words.



During the proceedings, Total Beauty tweeted an image of Whoopi Goldberg on the red carpet, mistakenly identifying her as Oprah, and then complimenting her on her tattoos. It certainly would be a surprise to discover that Oprah had tattoos, if she did, but this just landed Total Beauty in water so hot it could hard boil the sun. Before long, posts were emerging of other actors, tattooed or otherwise, being deliberately mistaken for other ones, rather than by accident.



Stallone Doesn't Win for Creed, Meatheads Start to Fume

I'm not sure that anyone was realistically expecting Sly to win another Oscar for a Rocky movie. Creed was a fascinating retooling of the franchise for a new generation, and most tended to agree that although Stallone reprised his most famous role admirably, it was Michael B. Jordan who stole the show (adding to the representation controversy, considering he wasn't nominated). Unsurprisingly, Stallone didn't win, the award went to British actor Mark Rylance for his turn as Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies.

https://twitter.com/RealMickFoley/status/704149263874445314?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw


If you ask me, it was well deserved, Rylance is an astonishingly talented actor and his work on Bridge of Spies elevated the film from enjoyable to deeply affecting. Others obviously didn't agree, damning Rylance for winning and accusing the Academy of being biased against Stallone. Facepalm? Facepalm.



Arnold Schwarzenegger also got in on the act, but his message was merely one of support for his longtime friend and colleague. One imagines he wasn't speaking on behalf of all the other idiots crowing about this.



Leonardo DiCaprio Finally Gets His Win, Blows Everyone Away with Speech

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The most resilient, persistent meme of Oscar-dom has finally been extinguished - Leonardo DiCaprio has actually won an Academy Award. For the past few years, DiCaprio has been nominated for either supporting or leading roles without fail. He was also failed to win, year after year, leading to a seemingly endless stream of memetic jokes about his desperation to finally get one.



This year, the cycle was broken, as he walked away with Best Actor for his brutal, visceral turn in The Revenant. Being the class act that he is, though, DiCaprio didn't even mention that the award was a 'long time coming' or anything even remotely related to his sizeable stack of previous nominations, instead, he talked about the environment. DiCaprio is a prominent spokesperson for Greenpeace, environmenal activist, vegan, all that jazz, and his speech called attention to the ongoing lack of action against climate change, as he stressed as much as possible that more action is needed. Fair play to him.



Chris Rock Makes #OscarsSoWhite The Theme of His Whole Hosting



The fact that Chris Rock was picked to host in the first place says a great deal about how the Academy was addressing it all. There was no way he was going to avoid the issue, but rather than just calling attention to it once, he made it the framework of his whole performance

It worked, for the most part, his opening monologue was as poignant and bitingly funny as any of his stand-up work, and some of the jokes were so direct that some of the stars started squirming in their seats as uncomfortably as they laughed, almost like a less extreme version to infamous reaction to Kendrick Lamar's performance at the Grammys. Not all of it worked, midway through the show Rock brought Stacey Dash on and introduced her as 'Director of the Minority Outreach Program'. The joke was based around her recent statements that Black History Month and BET should be removed, and it just came across as awkward, something which the Twitter crowd were quick to point out. 

Overall though, Rock was exceptionally well received, as many characterised him as the runaway star of the entire show, despite the fact that he wasn't up for any awards and, as he pointed out early on, probably wouldn't have been hosting if it had been chosen by nomination.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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The 2016 Academy Awards - The Oscars Dominate on Social Media Reviewed by Callum Davies on Monday, February 29, 2016 Rating: 5

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