The cock-up over best picture at the Oscars was cringe distilled into its purest essence. In other words, fantastic television. The kind of surreal train-wreck which the vast majority of viewers enjoyed immensely.
A bunch of overpaid actors being embarrassed in front of hundreds of millions of people. What's not to like?
Of course, for the person who caused the screw-up, it's not a laughing matter. It will likely have tangible, real-world effects and will define him for the remainder of his life. For the rest of us, he will be forever a buffoon.
"Buffoon" is one of those abstract words whose dictionary definition doesn't really do it justice.
You could ask ten different people to write out a definition of the word buffoon, and you would get ten different responses.
For me, a buffoon has always been someone who engenders at least some sympathy and some contempt. There's always at least a hint of the emasculated and ineffectual about a buffoon. He's inevitably going to be middle-aged or older, male (can women be buffoons?), and gone to seed or maybe even obese. He probably has a desperate need for people to like him, and has discovered over the years that one way to accomplish this is to play the clown. A self-deprecating sense of humour seems to be common among buffoons. And most buffoons have an acute lack of self-awareness. Of course, who really does have an accurate sense of how other people see them? But the buffoon's lack of self-awareness is extreme.
Brian Cullinan, the accountant from PricewaterhouseCoopers who has been singled out as the person who caused La La Land to be incorrectly announced as Best Picture at the Academy Awards when Moonlight was the real winner, appears to fit the definition if only because of that single mistake. Though he does have the stereotypical buffoonish appearance down cold.
He also appears to be something I call an Iphone-monkey. In fact, if he hadn't been an Iphone-monkey, his buffoon status would never have reached such mythic heights. What is an Iphone-monkey? It's someone who walks around with his head up his ass mashing away at his mobile phone with his thick peasant fingers when he should be paying attention to the world around him. Cemeteries are filling up with Iphone-monkeys whose last act was to engage in some asinine bit of online stupidity just before a semi-trailer plowed into them, smearing their innards all over the highway and delivering them into eternity. Lucky for Cullinan, his Iphone-mashing habit didn't have fatal consequences. Yet the fallout from his Iphone-monkey-induced blunder will follow him to the grave.
His colossal screw-up will attach new meaning to his every utterance and action. Every time he reaches for his mobile phone, he will likely hesitate and wonder if the distraction could have long-term, negative results. He may develop physical reactions when using a mobile phone, whether it be a cold sweat, tightening of the muscles, or a general sense of panic. When the Oscars roll around every year, his emotions will no doubt be affected. And of course, he will never again have the privilege of taking part in what he surely must have felt was an enjoyable night of rubbing shoulders with movies stars.
And when he finally ceases to exist, the local paper which announces his passing will remind the world of that fateful day when his reputation as a buffoon was sealed for all time.
May the lead clown bless your buffoonery
May all your screw-ups be sweet and true
May you always play the fool
And let others play you too
May you plant a ladder in the pit of screw-ups
And mangle every tune
May you stay forever a buffoon
Forever a buffoon, forever a buffoon
May you stay forever a buffoon