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A Brief History of Uproarious Awards Show Gaffes

A Brief History of Uproarious Awards Show Gaffes: MARK RALSTON / Getty

MARK RALSTON / Getty

If you’ve opened a web browser, newspaper or door today, you’ve heard about the unprecedented incident during the final minutes of the Academy Awards, when the wrong winner was announced for Best Picture. This being the age of social media and instant reactions, we’ll be hearing about it for quite some time—much like when we all fixated on Adele and Metallica after this year’s Grammys, or Mariah Carey on New Year’s Eve, or Steve Harvey at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. Truly, we are living in a golden age of live awards-show gaffes.

Still, it’s not like we as humans just started to screw up royally on primetime TV. Here are eight of the most bizarre and delightful technical gaffes from major US events over the years.


THE 1958 ACADEMY AWARDS
Remember when everyone complained about James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting the Oscars? That was nothing compared to the show in 1958, when someone had the bizarre idea to let Donald Duck co-host with Bob Hope and company. The biggest problem, other than having a cartoon duck host the Oscars, is that they had to keep trying to interact with Donald like he was actually there, and since the technology in the 1950s isn’t quite what it is today, it was unsuccessful, to say the least.


THE 1974 ACADEMY AWARDS
Things were so much different in the ‘70s. For example, there was apparently no type of security put in place for major events. That was made clear at the 1974 Oscars, when David Niven was presenting an award and was suddenly interrupted by a streaker running across the stage. He quickly gave a peace sign and ran out of sight. The show went on as usual, but with quite a bit less full-frontal male nudity after that.


THE 1995 MTV MUSIC AWARDS
If you invite Courtney Love to a live event, buckle up. There’s never really been a chill Courtney Love period, but 1995 was definitely peak crazy Courtney. During the MTV Awards Madonna was doing an interview when, like Randy Orton with an RKO, Love swooped in and just went all to hell. Honestly, anything that could have gone wrong during that segment definitely did. It culminated with Love falling out of her chair and landing face first on the ground.


THE 2002 MTV VMA AWARDS
Back in 2002 the VMAs coincided with Michael Jackson’s birthday. So to celebrate, Britney Spears brought him on stage and presented him with a cake. Nice enough, right? The problem happened when Britney casually said that she personally considers him the “artist of the millennium.” This wasn’t an actual award, just a sentiment from Spears. Jackson did not realize that and went into a full acceptance speech for an award that didn’t exist. To be fair, though, Jackson probably deserved the award and if he wants to give a speech where he thanks David Blaine, the street magician, then I say create that award and give it to him every year.


THE 2011 BET AWARDS
If you think calling out La La Land instead of Moonlight was awkward, it’s nothing compared to the debacle that happened at the BET Awards in 2011, when a fan was selected to announce the Viewer’s Choice award. An issue with the teleprompter, or perhaps the tablet the hapless young woman was holding, led to the erroneous announement that Chris Brown had won. She quickly corrected herself and announced that the winner was actually Rihanna. This was just two years after Chris Brown had brutally assaulted Rihanna. To make things even more bizarre, another presenter announced that the winner was actually Drake. The unflappable Drake gave his speech and the show went on, but it was later revealed that the real winner was, in fact, Chris Brown. At this point, just give them all an award and let’s forget this whole thing ever happened.


THE 2014 BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS
Maybe it’s not a good idea to put Kendall Jenner on live TV with a microphone and hope for the best, huh? That’s the lesson we should have taken away from the 2014 Billboard Awards, when Jenner was supposed to announce 5 Seconds of Summer to the stage, but apparently started thinking about One Direction in the middle of it and completely fell apart. Whatever the opposite of a hype man is, that’s how Kendall Jenner should be described in this moment.


THE 2014 MTV VMA AWARDS
In a moment that would go on to represent her entire career, Iggy Azalea was rapping on stage during a VMA pre-party when she misjudged how much stage was remaining behind her and tumbled out of sight. In her defense, she kept rapping and went on with business as usual, but unfortunately for the crowd, she kept rapping and went on with business as usual.


THE 2016 MOBO AWARDS
The MOBO Awards took the Steve Harvey moment to a whole new level when they announced that WSTRN won the award for best song. The group took the stage, was presented the award, and gave their acceptance speech. Then the show went on like everything was fine. That is, until an hour later when someone realized that it was actually Abra Cadabra that had won the award. The organizers apologized, but nothing could be more awkward than having to walk up to someone after an hour of celebrating a win and telling them you have to take the award and give it to the rightful owner.


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