Breaking Down Grantland’s Oscar Tragedies, Part Two

In Part Two, Sarah from Deconstructing Hollywood takes the bracket to task! To read part one, click here.


Grantland’s Oscar Travesties bracket self-identifies as “a battle for the most egregious Oscar moment ever”. The bracket contains 32 Oscar moments, paired together at random, and voted on by Grantland’s readers. The final vote determines a “champion”—the act the Academy should be most ashamed of.

While I admire Grantland’s willingness to question the authority and judgement of the sovereign Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I was disappointed in the bracket’s execution. Little to no contextual information was provided for any of the pairings prior to polls, and the moments themselves lack logic and consistently; “Best Song Category” and “Every Dance Number Ever” are too encompassing for realistic consideration, and “Björk’s Swan Dress” is a commentary on one person’s fashion choice, not a decision or act made by AMPAS. Oscar Travesties is a clear attempt by Grantland to appear clever, insightful and witty; in practice, this bracket does little more than pander to ignorant fanboys, indignant and rebellious simply for the sake of it.

The bracket’s shallow nature is made apparent by a simple exercise in deconstruction—examining the etymology of key words. The title of the bracket is Oscar Travesties. “Travesties” is the plural of the word “travesty”. Travesty originates from the French travesti, which means “to disguise”.

In English, the word was first used to mean “dressed so as to be made ridiculous, parodied, burlesqued.” In modern use, “travesty” has developed a number of meanings, all of which have negative connotations and contain a form of imitation.

The Oscar moments listed in Oscar Travesties are historical events, not literary or artistic burlesques, grotesque likenesses, or absurd imitations (with the exception of Billy Crystal as Sammy Davis, Jr.). Oscar Travesties is neither a balanced discourse nor an exploration into the history of the Academy Awards; rather, it is an exercise in being obnoxious and dumb.

In short, the bracket is so poorly constructed, even the title doesn’t make sense.

More of Sarah’s work can be found at Deconstructing Hollywood dot ca. Follow her on Twitter, too!




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