It Wasn’t Steve Harvey’s Fault This Time

By: Sarah Borchardt (@sarahborchardt7,

The Oscars. An anticipated, incredible, and rewarding evening for all film, fashion, and pop culture fans. I have to admit that I, myself, am not an avid film watcher, and hadn’t even seen a single one of the movies up for awards (I know, not even La La Land). However, I still watch this awards show every year simply to stay in the know and understand the memes I see on Twitter. Oh, and the fashion.

The 2017 ceremony took a surprising turn when it came to the Best Picture award, however. Announcer, Warren Beatty, mistakenly opened the envelope for Best Actress (which had been given to Emma Stone for La La Land) and announced that La La Land had won the award.

If you haven’t seen the cringe-worthy moment when the La La Land cast realized they had in fact not won the award while already on stage, watch it here and then check your Twitter feed for some hilarious jokes and memes (since it’s 2017 and turning bad moments into jokes is essentially a coping mechanism, which I love).

In this moment, the second thing that came to my mind (after the jokes) was “What a great moment to see how the PR team handles a crisis”. While we are still waiting to see exactly everything that will be done, I am a firm believer that this is going to be a great moment for social media. I’ll start with this example: the Twitter account for Miss Universe, a brand that has faced a similar crisis, was already able to make an epic social media moment out of what happened. 

Crises within any brand can be a huge moment for positivity and change on social media, although at the same time they can do just the opposite. Looking through the official Oscars account, @TheAcademy, on Twitter, they have not posted anything acknowledging the mistake just yet. While one option during a crisis is to remain silent, I believe in this case the Oscars and The Academy could use this moment to their advantage and turn it into a positive one for their brand and 2018 show.

Apologize for this mishap, but spin it into humor. Use those Twitter trolls to your advantage but also congratulate Moonlight for their deserving (and historical and ground-breaking) win. This is a moment no one is ever going to forget, so why not take it and run with it before someone else does?

As a college student studying PR, I live for humor on Twitter and LOVE when a company is able to make an appropriate joke on their social media; it engages me. A crisis of this caliber is the perfect moment for this, La La Land handled the moment with poise and there truly isn’t anyone else out there that wouldn’t appreciate a good old Steve Harvey-esque moment on @TheAcademy’s Twitter feed.

So far, all we can see regarding the Best Picture award can be seen below, and in my personal opinion, I would love to see much more done before this situation becomes just a simple part of Oscar history.

Now, just to wait on what craziness the 2018 Oscars will bring us…

This Article Has 7 Comments
  1. Katherine Wylie says:

    This was an awesome read. I, too, love Twitter during times of mishap and planning gone wrong. Though I don’t personally tweet during award shows, I LOVE award show twitter. The combination of having a show where there are many famous people in one place and its broadcasting for all to tune into, coupled with the theatrics that come from performances and emotions makes for a night rich with meme opportunities and Twitter jokes to reach viral numbers. I find award show Twitter to be as entertaining as the show I am simultaneously watching.

  2. Bailey Rogers says:

    This was such a cool thing to write about! I also don’t really watch many of the films I just like to stay in the loop and yes of course the fashion. I personally didn’t watch the Oscars but now I feel like I definitely need to see this segment! I agree that it would be in the Oscars interest to make this more lighthearted, and play along with whatever social media trolls that may be out there. They can learn from Steve Harvey and I think are in a better scenario because it was a group not just one person. Overall this was a cool perspective and I loved reading it!

  3. I am so happy you decided to write on this! I knew that someone in the class would have a fresh perspective. I love that you mentioned what happened with Miss Universe because honestly until you pointed that out, I had already forgotten about it. I felt more uncomfortable by the second as I watched that unfold at my house on Sunday, and man, am I glad I didn’t have to be the one’s dealing with it.

    I totally agree with you that the Academy should own this mistake because it isn’t going anywhere. Once the social world knows, everyone knows. And that Twitter Meme was out within seconds of it happening, I checked. PR teams and large corporations like the Academy often cannot foresee crises’ like this one happening, it’s not like Steve Harvey tried to screw everyone over. Honestly, I feel bad that good old’ Steve Harvey had to take the fall for this mistake. Both the cast members of Moonlight and La La Land handled the situation quite gracefully.

  4. Ivan Hernandez says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you Sarah, there is a great opportunity for The Academy to turn this awful looking ending into a positive for the 2018 show. It almost leaves you with the question if perhaps that turn of events is not just a PR campaign to increase the following years ratings, because if many people in the U.S weren’t seeing the Oscars that night, they all saw something about that mishap. So the idea is to give a positive direction to the attention created through their social media channels, so the ratings can increase next year. I don’t know if Miss Universe increased their ratings a year after their mishap, but it was in the word to word of everybody for a while.

    Unfortunately for me both these errors took away the prize from the people I wanted to win, La la land not only for being my favorite in a 100 buck bet with my roommate, but also for being for me one of the best movies ever made, mocking the Hollywood chase for a career over love, and never being happy, in the most Hollywoodish way, a musical. In the case of Miss Universe, the girl that was taken the crown off her head was as me a Colombian like me. In conclusion great timing for this post and great comments.

  5. Jeff Lockie says:

    As an avid movie fan, I had to read your post! While it was a crazy scene, I’m all with it as it definitely made the show a much more exciting evening for all of us. After watching the Oscar’s for which felt like was my entire day, it was good to see someone “spice the show up”. However, I do feel bad for the presenters, as they (likely because of their age as well) felt a large amount of the public’s wrath when they were given the wrong card!!! I can’t blame them for saying La La Land after just getting a piece of paper with Emma Stone’s name on it….poor presenters. Still cannot believe something like this could happen on the country’s biggest award show, but I guess you never know.

    I digress, but must say that I agree with Ivan in saying what made me most disappointed by the mess up was that I was rooting for La La Land as well! In fact, I had seen all 9 Academy Award Nominated films prior to the show (yes, I know…that’s a lot) and felt like it deserved its title as the clear cut favorite. While Moonlight was also a great film in demonstrating a powerful story, I have to say I was team La La Land on this as there movie was a “breathe of fresh air” in a movie environment built on emotional blockbusters. La La Land mixed it up with a type of satire view on the whole industry, filled with well acted, written, and choreographed scenes.

    All in all, can’t wait for next year!

  6. Cydney Chelberg says:


    I love that you chose to write about this and with such good timing!

    Although I am a terrible millennial and don’t watch award shows (and I purposely avoid Twitter for days surrounding them because I know I won’t be in-the-know), I am definitely a huge advocate for appropriate jokes as a form of crisis communication.

    The first thing that came to my mind when you mentioned the Oscars mistake is the Miss Universe mishap too and I love the Tweet that they posted to The Academy.

    I agree with you that the Oscars should have played along with the Twitter trolls and have been the first to make fun of themselves, so at least Twitter would go nuts for a slightly more positive reason.

    Your post makes me want to tune into actually tune into award shows for once! (Or at least try to keep up with the Twitter conversation so I don’t feel so out-of-the-loop).

  7. Katy Edgington says:

    “Ahhh yes. The Academy Awards Best Picture snafu of 2017…” we will lovingly reflect on twenty years from now. This was SUCH a moment and I completely agree with you that The Academy’s social media after the incident was a total letdown. Social media is supposed to be a sort of humanizing mechanism for organizations, which is why humor goes over so well. The Academy, which honestly I already thought was kind of stuffy and boring to begin with, had such an opportunity and totally wasted it.

    And poor Warren Beaty. He’ll never live that moment down, and he wasn’t even the one who read the card! You could see he knew something was wrong, so he handed that card off for someone else to read like a smooth professional trying to dodge the blame.

    The memes were epic, I retweeted like crazy because there are some really freaking funny people on Twitter whose words I simply cannot compete with, and frankly I think everyone should see. What a moment. I just wish, like you, that The Academy used the opportunity to shed some light on the situation, lighten the mood with some humor, or at least engage with their audience in a more effective way than they did. Great post, Sarah!

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