Before This Year, Oscar Controversies Were Pretty Tame
Jada Pinkett-Smith has only been in FOUR movies since 2016, yet she has been the focal point of TWO MAJOR Oscar Controversies in that same amount of time.
In 2016, upset over Will being snubbed for a nomination for “Concussion”, Jada used the #oscarssowhite to suggest a boycott of the 2016 awards. Last night, it was a bad joke about Jada’s hair or lack of, it that resulted in her husband physically assaulting comedian Chris Rock.
Hands down, the Smith/Rock incident is the worst, most disgraceful single incident in the award’s 92-year history. It’s not yet 24 hours after the incident so we don’t know what the full extent of this shameful assault will be. I’ll go on the record as saying Smith’s (Will, that is) behavior should NOT be excused or minimized and it might have real, lasting damage to his career and legacy.
But, it really puts previous “controversies” in perspective. Prior to “the slap heard ‘round the world” THESE were the incidents that most people cited as the Most Scandalous Oscar Moments.
1) Marlon Brando Sends Indian to Decline his Best Actor Award
In 1973, at the 43rd Oscars, Marlon Brando enlisted the aid of a Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather (real name Marie Louise Cruz). Littlefeather, in full Apache buckskin, told the audience that she was there to say that Brando would NOT be accepting his award as a form of protest against the portrayal of Native Americans in cinema and television.
This WAS very controversial when it happened. In the clip, below, you can hear boos coming from the audience. It was reported that John Wayne had to be restrained from going onstage and physically removing her. Littlefeather said that she was “blacklisted” by Hollywood after that and Jada Pinkett Smith called her “an inspiration” during the 2016 boycott.
But, no punches were thrown; no faces slapped. In comparison, this “controversy” seems positively cordial.
2) David Niven Distracted by Streaker
The very next year, in 1974, the Awards were interrupted by a streaker. “Streaking” was at the time a fad where people would run naked in a public setting. David Niven, who was trying to introduce Liz Taylor, quipped, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?”
People at the time and ever since have complimented Niven on his calm and cool demeanor. He probably wouldn’t have been quite so calm if the naked man had slapped him across the jaw, either with his hand or any other available body part.
3) Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway Flub Best Picture
This one is recent enough that even some of you Gen Z’ers may remember. In 2017 at the 89th Awards, they dusted off Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to announce the winner for Best Picture. Being that these actors were each at least 150 years old, they messed it up and said: “La La Land” won.
In the chaos that ensued, the producer of “La La Land”, a man named Justin Horowitz realized the mistake and called out the REAL winner, “Moonlight”. Warren Beatty offered an explanation that really amounted to “I guess we effed up”. In fact, Beatty STILL seemed very confused so, if not for the calm under the pressure of Justin Horowitz, who KNOWS how they might have handled it.
Justin Horowitz deserves a ton of credit but at least Marashala Ali didn’t sucker punch him when he got on stage.