What We Talk About When We Talk About TV: Oscars 2017

Following the news that PwC Matt Damon lookalike Brian Cullinan and his colleague Martha Ruiz are now banned from the Academy Awards forever, Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh analyses the “best moment in modern TV history” as a moral fable that we can all learn something from, albeit something little and probably useless.



It was 7 minutes and 26 seconds of pure beauty. Moonlight versus La La Land: Oscars grudge match. I wish I could say that my vicarious joy stemmed from the triumph of my favourite formidable underdog Moonlight. Part of it did! But let’s be real. I, in a similar vein to those who tune in for the audition segment of The X Factor, enjoy watching Goliath fall. Goliath wasn’t La La Land, however. No, no. The entity that fell on February 26th was the entire Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I watched. I learnt a lot. Mainly, that you can have your Moonlight best picture winning moment… but not before La La Land have their three out of four speeches too.


I want to thank The Academy, PwC and Warren Beatty for the honour that was:

  • Thirty seconds of Warren Beatty awkwardly searching in an envelope,
  • Five minutes of La La Land celebration slowly poisoned by the ominous buzzing of people in headsets
  • Three acceptance speeches before La La Land producer Fred Berger finishes his thank yous with the bombWe lost, by the way, but, you know”
  • The famous card hold up that launched a thousand memes
  • Warren Beatty explaining the envelope mishap with a wooden expression that makes me wonder “are we human, or are we wooden russian dolls attempting to dance, er”
  • Two minutes of Moonlight actually winning with the lovely Barry Jenkins confirming that those of us that have ever done an arts degree in Trinity and been told to just go work for PwC can rejoice in having a pop culture reference to help our guardians understand why we’re doing otherwise

For the record, Moonlight is a fantastic film and I urge every single person in the world to go see it.


It was dramatic irony at its finest with a rightful victor. The very drama that truly makes live TV. But there was something to be learnt from the continuously out of touch Oscars ceremony 2017. What that something was for Irish students living in an unstable economic climate dealing with a worsening housing crisis, I wanted to know:


When you’re really stressed and angry and think life is unfair this exam season, channel Jordan Horowitz

Jordan Horowitz had already given a speech thanking everyone including his “kind, generous, talented, beautiful, blue-eyed wife” when he was told he hadn’t won. Unlike any other rational and sane person who had given a year of their life to creating something to be told they did then didn’t win a top award; Horowitz graciously said to the audience “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.” Don’t be a grinch when your deadlines approach. When your lease is up and unrenewed, don’t hate on the new people moving in. Be Jordan Horowitz and share a can of coke with the philosophy students who have been questioning their existence not just during Trinity term (like the rest of us) but all year.


Winning is transient; Steve Harvey is not

Flying high in April, shot down in May. The Oscars 2017 has taught me not to take anything for granted. Your T.A. tells you that essay idea is “first class” before stabbing you in the back with a 2:2? Blame the transience of success. Blame tempting fate in an interview with Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/oscar-wrong-winner-marisa-tomei_us_58af326de4b0a8a9b780339f)  two days before the ceremony. Then blame the Oscars. Or Steve Harvey. Because, you might not know it, but everything is either Hollywood’s fault… or it’s Steve Harvey’s.


When you try your best but you don’t succeed…     

La La Land and Moonlight will be famous for years to come thanks to this gaffe. No one remembers who won Best Picture in 2007 but by God, they will remember 2017. Viewership for the Oscars might also finally go up after stagnant boredom and constant slagging. The Academy will also be delighted that, in nine years time, there will probably be a film written about this very moment and the subsequent fallout similar to The Big Short mixed with Spotlight. There will be a few conspiracies; it will star Brad Pitt; and it will be nominated for six oscars and win, at the very least, best adapted screenplay for Aaron Sorkin following the New York Times bestselling novel documenting the events.

Yet while we wait for this impending piece of cinematic greatness, let us remember our fallen PwC associates who will never take another selfie in Hollywood again. In their honour we stream this very serious piece of documentary film work provided by a man named Stan. May Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz never forget that, although they lost their jobs with the Academy, Oscars 2017 provided us with five boat loads of top quality memes.

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