By Christine Anne George
I’d like to start this post off with my most sincere apologies to the Academy. I’m an avid viewer of the Oscars, but Sunday was the first time in a long time that I haven’t stayed up to watch til the bitter end. I go to bed early and look at what happened. Obviously if my eyes had been glued to that screen while grumbling about my general dislike of mullet-style dresses (why can’t the mullet stay in the 80s where it belongs?!), Moonlight would have gotten the proper, unencumbered, oh-my-God-we-just-won celebratory moment it deserved. So, to the Academy, I offer my vow that with RIPS as my witness, I will never go to bed early again.
Once I woke on Monday morning to find that, alas, there was no EGOT to be had, I started to read up on Envelopegate. There were plenty of pieces and it seemed that everyone had an opinion. The more I read, the more I wanted to see a bit more compassion to Pricewaterhouse Cooper. In case you’re unfamiliar, PwC is in charge of the ballot counting and envelope handing outing for the Oscars. They are entrusted with the results. Sure there was a bit of controversy in 1993 (though I would like to state for the record that I never doubted that Mona Lisa Vito deserved that win), but we never had reason to doubt. Suddenly, one mistake and everyone breaks out a meme punchline—you had one job.
I feel almost entirely certain that if I were to ask a group of law librarians who have regularly had to provide live instruction if something had ever gone terribly wrong, the number of hands that go up would be akin to those who have been personally victimized by Regina George (no relation). Anyone who has had to present or teach knows that things are bound to go sideways at the worst possible moment. Well, perhaps not Best-Picture-faux-winners-already-on-the-stage-and-holding-the-award worst possible moment, but it sure can feel like it. Especially when you’re standing alone staring out at a crowd of people. You may silently curse the internet for dropping off, the file that won’t open, the log in that just won’t work, and or the computer for its cruel coup d’état, but the show must go on.
In those moments, it’s our job to take the technological punch—because it’s usually technology that turns on us in those moments, not an envelope—and make it work. It may not be smooth and it certainly won’t be pretty, but somehow, someway, we still convey the information. Slides refuse to load? Sketch out what you need on the chalk board. Tea spills over your meticulously crafted notes? Do it from memory as best you can. Brought the wrong cables for the projector? Rinse and repeat.
To those in the audience or class, it might not seem like your best work or it might seem like a complete failure. They’re only seeing the last step of everything you did to get to that point. They don’t see the researching, the planning, the coordinating—really, all of the work that you did to get to that moment. And in that moment, it might look like you had one job to do and it didn’t go well. It’s disheartening to have all of that time and effort discounted. We may be our own harshest critics, but that doesn’t make outside judgment sting any less. Even the knowledge that everyone has terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days isn’t enough to shake it off. It looks like we had one job and we didn’t deliver.
So, as someone who has been, not exactly there, but there adjacent, PwC, I lift my tea mug to you in solidarity.