Okay, sure, Ridley Scott's Gladiator won Best Picture at the 73rd Academy Awards, and many people believe that it robbed worthier recipients like Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Steven Soderbergh's Traffic. But the film, along with Jonathan Mostow's WWII submarine picture U-571, still received the harshest snub of the 2001 Oscars.
That snub came in the form of Mike Myers' intro for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.
Maybe Myers felt bristly about being asked to introduce what he considered a lowly category. Maybe that's why he stepped all over what should have been a career highlight evening for Jon Johnson (winner of Best Sound Editing for U-571) and Scott Millan, Bob Beemer and Ken Weston (winners of Best Sound Mixing for Gladiator) by introducing their awards with the following speech:
Now, ladies and gentlemen, the award we've all been waiting for . . . Julia! OK. Sound and sound editing. Now, I know what you're asking yourself. Will the winner this year be Chet Flippy or Tommy Blub-Blub or, perhaps, even Chad [unintelligible]. We don't know, but what I do know is that what's in this envelope is gonna send shock waves through the industry. Oh, yeah.
(I think he was just waving at Julia Roberts when he exclaimed her name. I can't quite remember, and there's no video of this particular Oscar snafu.)
Naturally, the Academy's sound branch didn't take too kindly to the intro, with executive chairman Donald C. Rogers calling the remarks an "insult" the day after the Oscars.
Their families are watching, and it's a moment of great pride. Being publicly humiliated for being an unrecognizable … name removed all of the joy of the event and was embarrassing to say the least. I spoke to one individual who asked, 'How could our academy do this to us?'
The remarks were especially uncool in light of the Academy's guidelines regarding just such an offense:
[Academy president Robert] Rehme and Bruce Davis, the academy's executive director, said in interviews that the academy has guidelines in place dating back to the era when Johnny Carson hosted the show that specifically state it is important that the Oscar ceremonies 'not present any of the categories dismissively, or make them the object of jokes that imply that no one really cares about them.'
But of course the worst part is how the recipients must have felt, hearing their highest career achievement belittled so openly. I remember watching this speech live and feeling outraged on behalf of the winners. In fact, it's the angriest I've ever been while watching the Academy Awards, angrier than I've ever been for any traditional Oscar snub. But the blame for Myers' speech, crappy as it was, does not lie solely with him. This was no off-script moment of anarchy. He wrote his remarks, submitted them for approval, practiced them during rehearsal and read them off the teleprompter. This was an Academy fuck-up, through and through.