What happened to the #OSCARS?

James Franco walked onto stage carrying his iPhone — his live tweets part of a strategy co-host Anne Hathaway revealed as “appealing to a younger demographic.” Names of award winners were tweeted out in real-time by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. And before every commercial break, the web address for oscars.com and the #OSCARS hashtag was included in the broadcast footer –  at least until 10:48.

At 10:48 pm, this was the last promotion of the Twitter hashtag - with an hour remaining in the broadcast.

The banner pictured at right was the last Twitter promotion of the night, a full hour before the end of the broadcast. Over the last hour of the show, the broadcast footer displayed only the web address, absent the Twitter hashtag.

As I followed along with the tweets during the live event, I wondered if someone at the event was reading along. In most cases the tweets were light-hearted jabs at the hosts, comments about the red carpet fashions, or notes about who won (or should have).

However, over the course of the evening, many tweets could be interpreted as mean-spirited, hurtful statements that would make any producer cringe. Perhaps the absence of the Twitter hashtag promotion was a premeditated advertising strategy, but it could have been an on-the-spot decision, the strategic result of a wounded spirit.

I often wonder about live events and the use of Twitter. On one hand, using an event hashtag gives the audience license to be a part of the event through comments and tweets. On the other, using an event hashtag opens an event to such participation – the good, the bad, and otherwise.

Supposing that the removal of the #OSCARS hashtag from the broadcast was a strategic choice, I am left with several questions:

  1. Does using an event hashtag imply that organizers welcome thoughts of any persuasion – for better or worse?
  2. What is the role of an event hashtag – to compile ideas, to generate real-time feedback, or to serve as self-promotion?
  3. Does an audience bear a responsibility for civility? After all, they become a part of the event by choice.

I wonder what civility on Twitter might look like during live performances, and how criticism might be constructive and civil while still humorous and honest. Perhaps then, the #OSCARS and other live events might find audience participation they would happily promote.


  1. Reactions from Twitter:

  2. […] At the 2011 Oscars, co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco employed Twitter to “appeal to a younger demographic.” Many viewers sighed and rolled their eyes. The resulting tweets were generally negative, mocking the hosts and the winners. Broadcast producers, perhaps miffed by the negativity of viewer tweets, stopped advertising the #Oscars hashtag midway through the broadcast. Strangely, I was the only person who noticed (or cared).* […]

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