Director Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight suffered an immense disservice during last year’s Oscars ceremony. The film, in all its cinematic Black genius, was more than deserving of the 89th Academy Award for Best Picture and the proper reception that comes with such recognition. But the cast and crew were able to enjoy only the former. Last February, the award’s announcers, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, incorrectly declared La La Land as the winner of the night’s biggest category.
Moonlight was robbed of the moment experienced by its 88 Best Picture-winning predecessors. And the incident was all too reminiscent of the countless instances in which Black art and Black people fail to receive the respect owed to them and their genius.
The unprecedented mistake detracted from the significance that a film about a queer Black man’s coming-of-age received the highest form of recognition in the film industry. It was also the first LGBTQ film to take home an Oscar for Best Picture.
So the ad for the for 2018 Oscars isn’t sitting well.
The commercial for the 90th Academy Awards, which stars comedian Jimmy Kimmel, pokes fun at last year’s flub. In the ad, a troubled Jimmy Kimmel, who will have hosted both the 2017 and 2018 ceremonies, seeks therapy as he appears haunted by last year’s embarrassingly erroneous announcement. The commercial even depicts the Jimmy Kimmel Live host receiving floods of hate mail in response to the mishap that’s been called “envelope gate.”
Granted, it is just a commercial and was clearly created in jest, but it’s painfully tone-deaf. Kimmel and whoever concocted the idea for the commercial are mocking the disrespect that was shown to Moonlight for promotion purposes. The faux hate-mail ridicules righteous Black indignation. Kimmel seeking therapy is too akin to the White aloofness that allows them to play the victim when they’ve done wrong. It’s ineffably wrong, insensitive and typical.
Are Jenkins and the others who made Moonlight the impeccable film reeling in indignation over envelope gate? Probably not. The win in itself is probably a bit more important. But the Moonlight cast and creators were still wronged. And despite the comedic spin on the event, it’s still not funny.
Last year’s Academy Awards wins made the ceremony the most diverse it has ever been. But that commercial alone shows the academy has a lot to learn and just means the #OscarsStillSoWhite.