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How the Academy Awards "envelopegate" shows the dangers of social media

The Academy Awards ended with a shocking change in the winner for Best Picture. (photo/Wall Street Journal)

The Academy Awards ended with a shocking change in the winner for Best Picture. (photo/Wall Street Journal)

I watch the Academy Awards every year. I find it interesting to see which films will score big with the Academy. However, this year’s award show took an unexpected turn at the conclusion of the event.

I’m talking about the infamous “envelopegate” incident. The award for Best Picture is the finale of the show. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope from PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountant Brian Cullinan. He mistakenly handed them the back-up envelope for Best Actress in a Leading Role instead.

It’s emerged that Cullinan was preoccupied backstage, focusing instead on tweeting a picture of Best Actress in a Leading Role recipient Emma Stone. That’s professional, right?

“La La Land” was announced as the winner for Best Picture, after much confusion from Beatty and Dunaway. Seeing “La La Land” written under Emma Stone’s name on the card, Dunaway mistakenly assumed the musical film was the recipient for the award.

After the cast and crew gathered on the stage and began an elaborate acceptance speech, things changed. I was tweeting at the time. I held my phone in my hand and then I heard, “There's a mistake. 'Moonlight,' you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke. 'Moonlight' has won Best Picture."  

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what was happening. “La La Land,” the favorite pick for this year’s award season, didn’t win. There was a mistake—a huge mistake.

I’ve been thinking about how newspapers reacted to the incident. Multiple organizations already tweeted that “La La Land” had won. Once those tweets went out, it was done. But once the mistake was announced, I can imagine how these journalists reacted.

It was a moment of scrambling around and contacting editors to correct the error. With social media, people are so quick to report first on news. If anything, I think this entire “envelopegate” situation has taught us that it’s almost better to wait a few seconds before posting something online. Things can change. This whole situation never would have happened if Cullinan wasn’t on his phone tweeting a picture of Emma Stone.

Get off your phone and do your job. Cullinan had one job and that was to ensure that all of the correct envelopes were given to the appropriate presenters. But instead of focusing on his task, he was more concerned of taking a picture of a celebrity. That wasn’t his job. He wasn’t there to take pictures; he was there to work with the envelopes.

Social media has become so important and necessary in life that people often forget to focus on reality. The real world exists. The Academy Awards only happen once a year, and unfortunately, the 2017 Awards will only be remembered for the “envelopegate,” not for the award winners.

Just ask yourselves this: Do you still remember a world without social media? It’s getting harder and harder to remember that private life. It’s sad. It really truly is sad. 

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