Mistakes in life happen, even at the Oscars

While everyone’s talking about the BIG OOPS today, what’s most impressive is how gracious ‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz was after the Oscar’s flub.

Producers Jeremy Kleiner and Adele Romanski, filmmaker Barry Jenkins, winners of the award for Best Picture for 'Moonlight,' during the 89th Annual Academy Awards, February 26, 2017 in Hollywood. Frazer Harrison | Getty Images | AFP

We all know the feeling. We show up to a dinner party the wrong night. We completely space an assignment. We hit “reply all.” I guess we can count ourselves lucky that when we trip up, we don’t do it in front of an estimated 34.3 million people.

Yep, flubs can happen to anyone, anywhere—even at the Academy Awards.

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In case you missed the Oscar oopsy, here’s what happened: Some envelopes got scrambled at the end of the telecast. Instead of being given the envelope for the Best Picture winner, Hollywood legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were apparently given one for Best Actress instead (Emma Stone for La La Land). Beatty, confused, handed the envelope to Dunaway, who simply read “La La Land.” The musical’s producers were thrilled—thrilled!—and rushed onstage to collect the night’s biggest prize.

La La Land producers Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt accept the Best Picture award by mistake during the 89th Annual Academy Awards. Kevin Winter | Getty Images | AFP

But after some confused milling about, La La Land Producer Jordan Horowitz grabbed the microphone and announced that there’d been a mistake: Moonlight, a powerful, poignant coming-of-age story, was the real winner. After holding the night’s most prestigious honor for two minutes, Horowitz would need to give it up.

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If there’d been a mixup for, say, Best Sound Editing, no big whoop, right? But no. The mistake had to be for Best Picture. Of course.

It’s not the first time a big nationally televised contest doled out the night’s biggest honor to a non-winner. Miss Universe MC Steve Harvey notoriously crowned the wrong woman in 2015. (After the Oscars, the Miss Universe pageant tweeted, “Have your people call our peoplewe know what to do.”)

But while everyone’s talking about the mistake today, what’s most impressive is how gracious Horowitz was after the flub. “I’m gonna be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” he said.

It was a classy way to handle an embarrassing, painful moment. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight’s writer and director, later tweeted out his thanks. “Jordan Horowitz. Wow. I’m slipping slowly into reflection, perspective. Much respect to that dude,” he wrote.

Maybe we could all learn something from Horowitz.

Producer Jordan Horowitz hugs Barry Jenkins, Moonlight’s writer and director. Kevin Winter | Getty Images | AFP

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We live in a pretty angry age right now. In some forums, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see such a glaring, public mistake descend into angry words, gestures, and perhaps the Oscar being used as some sort of cudgel. But on a night when we heard how healing can only begin through love and grace, we saw a small reflection of that love and grace: A loser simply giving up a gold statue he’d worked for years to claim while acknowledging the folks who won it.

Yes, his frustration was obvious. But so was his class. Hopefully, we can be as gracious when we’re the victims of painful, embarrassing gaffes. And frankly, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be needing a little bit of grace and understanding ourselves.

Paul Asay
Paul Asay
Paul Asay is a movie critic for Plugged In and has written for a variety of websites and publications, including Time, The Washington Post and Beliefnet.com. He’s authored or co-authored several books, including most recently Burning Bush 2.0: How Pop Culture Replaced the Prophet.

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