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The Academy Awards, also known as The Oscars, is an annual televised ceremony honoring notable figures and cinematic achievements in the film industry. The event is known for awarding winners with an Academy Award of Merit gold statuette nicknamed "Oscar."
On May 16th, 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony was held for approximately 270 attendees at a private gathering in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. At the event, 15 awards were given to various professionals in the film-making industry for films produced from 1927 to 1928. Since then, many award categories have been added and removed, with 24 main categories currently being awarded.
The Voting Process
Every December, the final lists of nominees and winners for each of the 24 Academy Awards categories are determined through a voting process involving 6,261 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), who can submit a list of up to five nominations for one or more categories within their corresponding branches either via mail or online poll. While the voting membership of the AMPAS is divided into different branches covering a wide range of disciplines in film production, from actors and directors to editors, designers and engineers, the nomination and balloting processes for certain categories, including the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Feature Film, are subject to special rules & eligibility, as well as the Best Picture category, for which all members of the AMPAS may participate in nominating and voting. Once submitted, all the votes for nominees and winners are tabulated and certified exclusively by the multinational auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
All AMPAS members must be invited to join by the Board of Governors, on behalf of Academy Branch Executive Committees. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other "significant contribution to the field of motion pictures."
In 2012, the Los Angeles Times' survey of approximately 88% of the AMPAS' voting membership revealed that out of at least 5,100 active voters, 94% were Caucasian, 77% were male, and 54% were found to be over the age of 60. In addition, 33% of voting members were former nominees (14%) and winners (19%). In 2016, the Los Angeles Times survey found that out of more than 6,000 voting members, 91% were white and 76% were male. Out of all branches within the voting membership at large, the actors constitute the largest bloc with at least 1,176 members.
On February 26th, 2012, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie arrived at the 84th Academy Awards' red carpet ceremony in a strapless black Versace dress with a split revealing her leg. Being one of the most well-known celebrity runway events of the year, Jolie's red carpet entrance became a much talked-about topic during and after the awards ceremony. After photographs of the dress were posted online, many internet users posted photoshopped variations referred to as "Angelina Jolie's Leg".
That evening, actor Billy Crystal appeared in blackface in a skit while portraying Sammy Davis Junior. The performance was criticized in the social justice blogosphere before Crystal was defended by Junior's daughter, who assured The Hollywood Reporter that her father had given Crystal his full blessing in portraying him.
During the opening segment of the 2013 ceremony, television producer Seth MacFarlane performed a musical number titled "We Saw Your Boobs," which contains lyrics about various nude scenes in which female celebrities exposed their bare breasts (shown below). The performance ignited a controversy online, with many accusing the performance as misogynistic while others defended it as harmless satire.
That evening, actress Jennifer Lawrence stumbled while walking up stairs to accept the Best Actress award for her performance in the 2012 romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook." A photograph of the fall subsequently inspired a series of GIFs and photoshops online.
During the Academy Awards ceremony on March 2nd, 2014, American talk show host and the host of the ceremony, Ellen DeGeneres, approached renowned actress Meryl Streep for a photo opportunity in an attempt to break the record for most retweeted photo. As DeGeneres and Streep prepared to take the photo, other actors in the audience jumped in to photobomb the photo, which resulted in a supergroup selfie featuring DeGeneres, Streep, Jared Leto, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Lupita N’yongo and her brother, Kevin Spacey, Channing Tatum, and Angelina Jolie (shown below). The photo later inspired a series of parodies and photoshops featuring various other celebrities and meme characters.
On January 15th, 2015, AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs made an onstage appearance at the Oscar Nominations ceremony to announce the nominees in upcoming 87th annual Academy Awards, scheduled to take place on February 22nd. While reading the list of nominees for the Achievement in Cinematography award, Issacs fumbled on the pronunciation of Dick Pope, the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, and referred to him as "Dick Poop". Although she promptly corrected herself, Issac’s gaffe opened up a massive opportunity for toilet humor online.
At the ceremony the following month, Lady Gaga was photographed on the red carpet wearing a pair of red leather gloves, which were subsequently mocked on Twitter for resembling a pair of dish washing gloves (shown below, left). That evening, actor John Travolta posed for a photograph with Johansson during the red carpet ceremony at the 2015 Academy Awards. That evening, Hollywod photographer Kevin Mazur released the photographs to the celebrity photo website WireImage (shown below), inspiring a photoshop meme titled "Creepy Travolta".
On February 28th, 2016, the 88th Academy Awards ceremony commenced with comedian Chris Rock hosting the event, which was heavily marked by a plethora of jokes and special messages focused on the perceived lack of diversity in the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy on the social media.
Among the highlights of the evening were the screening of a green-screen parody sketch starring the Saturday Night Live alumni Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan joined by current cast member Leslie Jones and actress Whoopi Goldberg, a cameo appearance on-stage by American actress and Fox News commentator Stacey Dash, a moving performance of the Oscar-nominated anti-sexual assault song "Til It Happens to You" by Lady Gaga with an introduction from vice president Joe Biden, and a special message from the AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs pledging to improve diversity by implementing drastic changes in the composition of the organization's membership by 2020. In addition, Chris Rock simultaneously hosted a live benefit event for Girl Scouts' Greater Los Angeles branch during the ceremony, which ended up raising more than $65,000, while Leonardo DiCaprio, an unlikely underdog of the Oscars who had gained online notoriety for being repeatedly snubbed by the Academy, finally won his first "Best Actor" award for his leading role in The Revenant.
In anticipation of the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony, Twitter users began posting jokes about parody award categories along with the hashtag "#OscarsWeNeed" (shown below).
On February 21st, the Screen Junkies YouTube channel released an Honest Trailers video for the upcoming ceremony (shown below). Within one week, the video gained over 2.2 million views and 2,200 comments.
On February 23rd, The New York Times ran a commercial titled "The Truth is Hard" to be aired during the ceremony on February 26th (shown below). On the morning of February 26th, United States President Donald Trump posted a tweet mocking the ad, remarking that the publisher should "try reporting accurately & fairly."
In addition to the major memes of the Oscars, 2017 Academy Awards Best Picture Gaffe and Ryan Gosling Whispering, several other moments sparked jokes on Twitter during the event. Among the more notable ones, a GIF of actress Nicole Kidman clapping drew criticism and jokes for the bizarre way she held her hands, which made Twitter Moments.
SOMEONE PLEASE TEACH NICOLE KIDMAN HOW TO CLAP pic.twitter.com/5DQFR3M0VV— #1 Rachel ✨ (@rachel) February 27, 2017
Another notable moment was when model Chrissy Teigen was caught sleeping during Casey Affleck's acceptance speech for Best Picture. The amount of jokes grabbed media attention as well.
On the critical side, Jimmy Kimmel's performance hosting, particularly the jokes he made about the name of Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali being difficult to pronounce, drew criticism for being ethnocentric.
Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film
On August 8th, 2018, the Academy's board of governors approved several changes for the 91st Academy Awards. These changes included a shorter ceremony, reducing the length of the telecast to three hours, and a new category: "Outstanding Achievment in Popular Film." However, despite the announcement, the board did not specify what exactly made a film eligible for the award. They wrote, "We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming."
That day, they tweeted, "Change is coming to the #Oscars. Here's what you need to know: – A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film. – We've set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9. – We're planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast." The post (shown below) received more than 3,400 retweets and 8,200 likes.
Online, people reacted negatively to the decision with many in the entertainment business and cultural criticism mocking the idea. Actor Rob Lowe joked about the idea being worse than the time he infamously performed a song at the ceremony. He tweeted, "Seriously, this 'best pop movie' category is the worst idea the Academy has had since they asked me to sing with Snow White." The tweet (shown below, left) received more than 2,700 retweets and 23,000 likes in two days.
Others made up mock categories that would also be added to the ceremony. Anchorman-director and Oscar-winner Adam McKay tweeted, "Other new categories: -Best movie where shit blowed up good. -Hottest female alien – Best back flip to avoid a thrown knife -Best knife throw -Best 'you thought he was dead but now he’s back and REALLY kicking ass'." Within two days, the post (shown below, center) received more than 390 retweets and 2,900 likes.
Some mocked the announcement of the shorter segment. Twitter user @JamesSchamus tweeted,BREAKING: So excited that the Academy is going to hand out the new Popular Movie #Oscars award during its own tv spot in the middle of a Super Bowl ad break, thus assuring the biggest possible audience for it." The post (shown below, right) received more than 25 retweets and 120 likes in two days.
Some speculated that the move was caused by the popularity of the film Black Panther, which would, if not nominated for Best Picture, could alienate fans of the film. Additionally, some speculated that the change could be racially motivated, due to Black Panther predominately black cast and production team. Author Mark Harris tweeted, "It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy's reaction is, 'We need to invent something separate…but equal.'" The tweet (shown below) 6,300 retweeted and 22,000 likes in 24 hours.
Later, the Academy followed the announcement with an addendum. They wrote:
While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories -- Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.
Kevin Hart Hosting Controversy
On December 4th, 2018, actor and comedian Kevin Hart announced on Instagram that he would be hosting the 2019 Academy Awards. He posted, "For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars, and my answer was always the same…I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime[…]I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars." Within two days, the post received more than 750,000 likes (shown below).
Following the announcement, some on Twitter pointed out that some of Hart's old tweets and standup routines expressed a homophobic viewpoint. On December 4th, Twitter @benfraserlee tweeted a quote from Hart's 2010 standup comedy movie in which Hart jokes about how "one of [his] biggest fears is [his] son growing up and being gay." They also posted several tweets from Hart. The tweet received more than 860 retweets and 1,700 likes in two day (shown below, left). One of Hart's tweets stated, "Yo if my son comes home and try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going to break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay'" (shown below, center).
Two days later, actor Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted, "Homophobia is not positivity." The tweet, which many believe was in response to the tweets, received more than 8,700 retweets and 51,000 likes (shown below, right).
On December 6th, Hart posted a video on Instagram about the controversy surrounding his tweets. In the video, he claims that he has changed, grown and evolved. The post received more than 1.1 million views and 189,000 likes in 24 hours.
View this post on Instagram
Stop looking for reasons to be negative…Stop searching for reasons to be angry….I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people….there is nothing that you can do to change that…NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all….with that being said. If u want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I’m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming. You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love….Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please….What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY…..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you….Have a beautiful day
The following day, Hart tweeted, "I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past." The tweet received more than 9,400 retweets and 53,000 likes in 24 hours (shown below).
Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Snubbed By Oscar
Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Snubbed By Oscar refers to a series of jokes surrounding the American actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his noticeable lack of recognition by the Academy Award, the world’s most prestigious accolade for excellence of cinematic achievements, despite having been nominated three times throughout his acting career.
BRODYQUEST is an animated music video featuring an exploitable image of actor Adrien Brody going about his normal day set to catchy music, which uses a cutout image of Brody receiving his first Oscar award for Best Actor in 2003. Throughout the video, Brody continually walks from the left of the screen to the right of it while the scenery behind him changes in repeated cycle. The video became immensely popular on YouTube for its catchy tunes and psychedelic visuals, spawning a series of parodies and derivatives titled (X) Quest.
Oscars So White
Oscars So White also known as Oscars So White or Oscar Whitewash, is a hashtag used to protest the under-representation of people of color in the annual Academy Award nominations. The hashtag came into use during the 2015 award cycle, and re-appeared in 2016.
 New York Times – Chris Rock’s Opening Oscar Monologue: A Transcript
 The Hollywood Reporter – Oscars Won't Televise All Awards Live, Adds 'Popular' Film Category
 The Daily Dot – The Academy Approved a Shorter Broadcast, Popular Film Category