The Oscars had a Jim Joyce Moment, And That’s a Good Thing
The 2017 Academy Awards will always be remembered for the mix-up at the end of the awards show. La La Land was mistakenly named the winner for Best Picture, then moments later Moonlight was announced the winner.
A huge mistake, but a mistake that was handled well by all. That's something that former Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce has experience with. Just ask Armando Galarraga or any Detroit Tigers fan.
On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga was one out away from becoming only the 21st pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game. The next batter was forced out at first base, but Joyce missed it and called the runner safe ending the bid for what should have been a perfect game.
There are two big differences between the Oscars mix-up and Jim Joyce's missed call. The Oscars mistake was able to be immediately fixed, but the baseball game mistake couldn't be fixed.
(Since 2014, MLB's instant replay system has been expanded to include changes which would have allowed the overturning of Joyce's call if the rules had been in place in 2010.)
There are also major similarities. Both the Oscars mix-up and the missed call were the result of human error. Both mistakes included an immediate response and admission of responsibility for the error. Both mistakes were handled well by all involved.
Presenter Warren Beatty knew something was off, but wasn't quite sure how to handle it. He paused, looked for another piece of paper in the envelope and even looked to the side of the stage for help before showing it to his co-presenter Faye Dunaway.
If Beatty had looked at the outside of the envelope and noticed it was the wrong one or if he had actually asked for help and explained what he was looking at, then reading the wrong winner and having the crew from La La Land on stage could have been avoided, although the incident still would have been a huge mess.
Beatty should not have been expected to have done any of those things, but he would have been a bit of a hero if he did. You can expect future presenters to be more careful.
Dunaway immediately read the card when Beatty showed it to her, as she appeared to be growing impatient while thinking that Beatty had been goofing around. Can't blame her.
Over the span of a couple of minutes, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz's emotions went from excitement to confusion. Upon learning what went wrong, Horowitz made sure the crew of Moonlight got the recognition they deserved before his crew left the stage.
Jimmy Kimmel tried to lighten the moment with some humor, but backed-off as he saw Horowitz and Beatty were explaining what went wrong. Once on stage, the crew of Moonlight even took a moment to recognize the crew of La La Land.
Perhaps most importantly, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers apologized and explained what happened:
Additional statements from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Academy have reflected the same sentiments.
They admitted the mistake and apologized. Jim Joyce did the same thing. Human errors happen. Those who made the mistakes took responsibility and those affected by the mistakes showed patience and understanding.
There's a lot to be learned from both the blown call on the baseball field and the Academy Awards envelope mix-up.