During this year’s Oscars Jimmy Kimmel did something that started out as sweet and fun but turned into the most awkward, terrible thing I’ve ever seen at an award show.
We’re used to weird things happening at the Oscars. Ellen Degeneres gave out pizza, John Travolta got way too close to Idina Menzel and let’s not even talk about Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s most awkward award presentation ever. But this year the joke was on the tourists, and it got out of hand really quickly.
Jimmy Kimmel gathered a bunch of tourists who were going on a tour of LA and managed to surprise them by bringing them to the Oscars. The set up was great and I was really excited to see the surprised faces of people who are quite literally walking into a part of Hollywood history. Then they walked in, and it was so clear that they knew what was going on, as evidenced by their phones being in front of their faces the entire time.
I get it, you’re on vacation and you’re getting the surprise of your life. But when you walk into a room filled with celebrities and all you want to do is record the experience on your phone you’re going to miss out on the experience that’s happening in front of you. And as much as I want to write more about that, I have a bigger problem with Jimmy Kimmel’s treatment of these tourists.
The segment continued and it got more awkward the longer it ran. These tourists were walked down the front aisle, getting introduced to actors, and again it started out really fun but then Jimmy began suggesting the tourists ask for this and ask for that. It was cute when Denzel Washington came down to give a hug to the woman who exclaimed that he was her favorite actress, but it wasn’t cute when they immediately went for the selfie without greeting the actor.
It was cute when the tourists got to wave and say hello to people they’ve only ever seen on the big screen. But it wasn’t cute when Kimmel suggested that one of them hold Mahershala Ali’s first Oscar, or take/wear Jennifer Aniston’s sunglasses.
I don’t know about you guys but if I ever win an Oscar I’m not going to want to let a stranger hold it after I’ve only had it for about two hours. It was so clear that Kimmel was taking advantage of the tourists to provide us with entertainment and not trying to give them a genuinely awesome experience at the Oscars.
And then Kimmel proceeded to ask one of the tourists what her name was and immediately began to make fun of it in front of millions of people. This is where opinions start to split, because several friends of mine loved the gag but a lot of them thought it was the most awkward thing ever. I’m definitely part of the latter.
Kimmel’s whole schtick is about making fun of people. If you watch his show you already know that he loves to entertain us by embarrassing others. A lot of the time it can be pretty entertaining and I actually have enjoyed a lot of his segments on the show but I couldn’t look at the tourists without cringing. The segment was so. Damn. Long.
As a journalist I’m very aware of the fine line between professionalism and fangirling. And I’m even more aware of how often celebrities get gawked at and asked for selfies, so to see them experiencing that in the middle of an event where that would normally not happen (at least to such a degree) made me feel bad for them. It would have been so much cooler if the group was brought on stage and allowed to stand observe what it looks like to get an Oscar. That would have been brilliant. Making fun of them? That was not.
I don’t blame the tourists for acting the way they did, don’t get me wrong. I know if I’ve never met a celebrity and was suddenly introduced to hundreds of them I would want a photo too, but the way it was handled was so crass and badly executed that I wanted it to end every minute it kept going.
With so many people split on how well or how badly this segment went it’s hard to say if this is going to go down as part of the greatest moments in Oscar history or if it’s something they’re going to avoid mentioning for the sake of embarrassing themselves.