Jordan Horowitz, 'La La Land' producer, needs no compliments after best picture mistake

Jordan Horowitz, 'La La Land' producer, needs no compliments after best picture mistake
Source: AP
Source: AP
opinion
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Amid a farcical mistake that saw actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally give La La Land the best picture Oscar that rightfully belonged to Moonlight, the former movie's producer, Jordan Horowitz, acquitted himself pretty well. He quickly realized the error, stepped to the microphone and said, as buoyantly as possible considering the circumstances, "Moonlight! You guys won best picture!"

No less than Moonlight director Barry Jenkins himself gave thanks to Horowitz for his calm during a difficult situation. "Much respect to that dude," he tweeted in the hours after the ceremony.

That, quite frankly, should have been that. But then we had a piece Monday morning from the Washington Post: "La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz is the truth-teller we need right now."

Viola Davis, reading that Washington Post headline
Source: 
Giphy

This is what we would call a "reach." Or perhaps a "stretch." A "stretch-reach." Point is, the Washington Post's Stephanie Merry and Lindsey Bever bent over backwards to compliment a man who literally just did what he had to do.

First of all, let's talk about the idea of Horowitz as a "truth-teller." Merry and Bever's point is, in short, that Donald Trump has made truth such a foreign concept that hearing someone tell it is worthy of calling them, I shit you not, "a folk hero." Meanwhile, Viola Davis is over here giving speeches about the importance of telling the stories of the deceased, but sure, Horowitz is our "truth-teller."

Here's Merry explaining the Trump connection:

This kind of behavior shouldn't be all that exceptional, but truth has been hard to come by lately. We've just come off an election in which politicians have happily danced around facts, and the president continues to make false or misleading claims. When the truth is inconvenient, a lot of people spin it or bend it to their will. But that, apparently, is not Horowitz's style.

Again, just to be clear: "Horowitz's style" is Merry and Bever's way of talking about a man literally correcting the record. He didn't pull an Adele and try to give Moonlight — the Beyoncé in this metaphor — an award it didn't win. He realized an error and did what he had to do. What was his other option, ripping up the card and pretending he didn't know anything?

In fairness to Merry and Bever, they're hardly the only ones indulging in a little stretch-reaching Monday morning.

Look, Horowitz did a decent thing. He did exactly what he should have in the situation. That's worthy of a tweet like Jenkins' — from the man who it affected the most — but it's not worth all this hoopla. A white man doing the right thing is not inherently laudable, no matter who our president is.

For those who are searching for something to celebrate from the Oscars, perhaps Moonlight's best picture win will serve as an acceptable substitute? After all, it is the first LGBTQ-themed movie to win the Oscars' top prize, and it's still incredibly rare for stories about, by and starring black people — or any people of color, for that matter — to win best picture. 

True achievement, especially the most unexpected achievement, is worthy of fawning. Doing what's right and necessary isn't.

Mic has ongoing Oscars coverage. Please follow our main Oscars hub here.

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Kevin O'Keeffe

Kevin is the arts editor at Mic, writing about inclusion and representation in pop culture. He is based in New York and can be reached at kevin@mic.com.

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