“The Integrity Of Our Voting Results Is Paramount.”
That was the red-band headline late Monday night on MSNBC as the Iowa Caucus returns became a complete mess with dysfunction everywhere and confusion rampant. However, that headline could also be applied to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which quickly moved to quell a negative tweetstorm reaction to a glitch that occurred when the Academy launched a new feature earlier in the day called “The Oscars Prediction Experience.” It could have said “The Integrity Of Our Voting Results Is Paramount — and Sony and Netflix and Warner Bros and Universal….” Well, you get the idea.
This new feature was meant to let fans make their own predictions for winners of Sunday’s Oscars, but quickly went awry when some tweets with predictions of winners appeared instead to be coming directly from the Academy itself, with their official Twitter handle @TheAcademy and Oscars logo on the tweets that, at least in one case, listed winners in all 24 categories under the heading “My Oscar Predictions” — naming among others Parasite as Best Picture and Sam Mendes as Best Director.
Considering the Envelopegate mess AMPAS experienced just three years ago when La La Land was mistakenly announced as Best Picture over actual winner Moonlight, a new conspiracy theory about the voting process (or anything remotely like what this appeared to be to some eagle-eyed users in the Twitterverse), was the last thing the Academy needed.
Some Oscar campaigners immediately jumped, alerting the media to what they thought was a highly inappropriate thing for the Academy to be “predicting” its own winners even as voting was still going on through Tuesday afternoon at 5 PM PT. One consultant with numerous dogs in the race emailed me the screen grab last night with the topper saying: “Fwd: Academy making official predictions?? This on twitter right now. Since when is this okay?” The answer to that is easy: Never. And the Academy quickly moved to explain the situation last night at 9:01 PM PT in an updated tweet on their site.
“We invited fans on Twitter to make and share your #Oscars predictions. A ton of you already have (happy face emoji). A brief issue on Twitter made some of yours look like they came from our account. (not so happy face emoji). They didn’t. This error is now resolved. And we’ll reveal our picks on Sunday.”
One wag replied to @TheAcademy, “Sure. Good Story. Now what about the Iowa Caucus results?” The Academy actually retweeted a response from an Oscar pundit who wrote “Everyone chill, it’s a predictions app.” Yes, and as Iowa just found out with its new voting app that sometimes apps are apt to go app-sh*t.
AMPAS is clearly trying to expand fan engagement with the Oscars on their social media platforms and allowing them to do what pundits (including me) do all the time; it is a new idea that is actually kind of fun. That is, until technology makes it go awry and they are put in the same position as the Iowa Democratic Party trying to explain away the glitch, and that in this case it actually is supposed to have your Twitter handle as replying to @TheAcademy, not from the Academy, folks. It has all been fixed and the site is humming when last I checked.
But hey, is it really as bad as President Donald Trump tweeting Sunday night his congratulations to “the great state of Kansas” on the Super Bowl victory by the Kansas City Chiefs? Sometimes tweets ain’t so sweet.
Getting back to the real business of Oscars. Voting does in fact end at the aforementioned time of 5 PM PT today (February 4) and the Oscars will air exactly five days later on Sunday on ABC. Keep a copy of this screen-saved ballot, an instant collectors item, and see how many were right. If it turns out to be 100%, then Oscar might have some explaining to do to all who live and die minute by minute in Twitter conspiracy land. Or better yet, feel free to use it in your Oscar office pool. It’s pretty close to what I am predicting. Look for my final thoughts on winners later this week.