Last week we asked (mostly) satirically: "If Lincoln ends up winning this year’s Best Picture Oscar, how early in the night will Karl Rove admit it?"
Well, now, given the Academy's latest Titanic disaster, a certain Hollywood blogger would be within her rights to say, "TOLDJA!"
The Oscar nominations that were announced last Thursday provided clear evidence that the experiment with Internet Voting by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was exactly the disaster some members had expected --- and that the reason wasn't technological befuddlement on the part of older voters, as AMPAS had unpersuasively claimed. Rather, the problem was a simply crummy online voting system that stymied the ballot-casting efforts of even computer-savvy "youngsters" like documentarian Morgan Spurlock.
The nominations list is so devoid of internal consistency and logic that show-biz pundits are using terms like "baffling" to describe it. That's a far cry from the supposed cross-category bias toward edgier, more youthfully skewing pictures we were supposed to see after the Academy's old guard supposedly gave up on learning how to use the Internet. Instead, the lack of any pattern whatsoever to the noms shows that Internet Voting was every bit the nightmare for the Oscars that it has been for the American and even the Canadian elections systems as a whole, as The BRAD BLOG has detailed for many years.
But so far, it seems, no mainstream journalist or Academy member is willing to voice the unavoidable conclusion that this year's contest is now hopelessly tainted, and its results even more meaningless than usual. If your nominations basically represent a compendium of votes that were able to get past a firewall of interface and design ineptitude --- not to mention the votes of anybody else who might have inappropriately succeeded in entering and perverting the system --- legitimacy for this year's supposed winners is now largely gone with the wind.
Of course, Oscar results have never been overseeable or "verifiable" by the public. Unlike organizations like the National Society of Film Critics, the Academy doesn't reveal the number of votes received by each winner, nor does it even name the runners-up. It's always lacked the transparency required for legitimacy of any small "d" democratic "election". But under the old, paper-ballot-only system, at least Pricewaterhouse Coopers (the pedigreed professional-services firm that is AMPAS' official vote tabulator and certifier) could see with their own eyes who had won. We could either trust their accounting or not.
But now, not even they know who won or lost, since there's no way for them to verify the accuracy or completeness or integrity of the online vote by the time it got to them. Thus, nobody --- least of all the Academy --- will ever know who "won" the Oscars. Ever!
The calamitous insecurity of untransparent e-voting --- whether in person at the polls or via the Internet --- is something interested parties are loathe to acknowledge. That's why opportunistic companies like Everyone Counts --- which provided the Oscar voting software despite their rich history of gumming up the works in more important, governmental races --- get to fail ever upward.
If we as a society can't cry foul when a shady but well-connected software firm louses up something as comparatively inconsequential as the Academy Awards, how are we ever going to confront the reality of what they and their ilk are doing to our democracy?
Read my full story on this year's epic Oscar Internet Voting collapse, posted at Orlando Weekly, right here. It starts this way:
That's because we'll never know who was even nominated...
Steve Schneider is an Orlando-based media critic who writes about the intersection of popular culture and public policy. He holds a master's degree in Media, Culture & Communication from New York University. Read his blog, "Vision Thing", at Orlando Weekly and follow him on Twitter: @Schneider_Stv.