Did Macaulay Culkin’s live tweeting help or hinder the Oscars?

Did Macaulay Culkin’s live tweeting help or hinder the Oscars?

By Aaron Field

We all know the drill when it comes to the world-renowned Oscars. A-listers sashay down the red carpet in designer outfits, some of them will take to the stage to give or receive a shiny gold statuette and we will all gossip about what they wore, what they said and who went to which star-studded after party. However, times are changing for high profile events. Thanks to the burgeoning world of social media, it is not just the opinions of attendees that count on the night.


Did Macaulay Culkin’s live tweeting help or hinder the Oscars?

Actor Macaulay Culkin demonstrated this perfectly at last Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards ceremony. Or, rather, he demonstrated this from the comfort of his own home via the World Wide Web. Having only recently signed up to Twitter, Culkin announced to his thousands of followers that he would be “live tweeting the Oscars tonight but I won’t be watching them”.

He went on to post images of everything that he was doing rather than tuning in to the extensive event coverage (including making ramen, painting his toenails and playing the guitar – all whilst wearing a tuxedo). He also poked fun at the Oscars’ proceedings, attendees and lashed out at the figures who weren’t in attendance (notably Harvey Weinstein, James Franco and Casey Affleck). In other words, he was “trolling” one of the most glamorous and well-known events of the year, and some of the industry’s most talked about figures, with the final intention of promoting his own podcast.

So, having latched onto one of the most prevalent online conversations of the evening, did Macaulay Culkin damage The Academy’s reputation (which has already come under intense scrutiny over the past few years) or did he in fact help the legendary film organisation to project the industry’s most anticipated event to wider audiences?    

It is clear that the actor was attempting to mock the event and some of the projects and people involved with it, shining a negative and derisive light on certain proceedings, actors, hosts and films. Although humorous, his posts cast the Oscars as an irrelevant and old-fashioned part of the film industry calendar.

On the other hand, Culkin certainly helped to promote the Oscars on Twitter with the event already a trending topic. Although the Twitter-sphere thoroughly enjoyed his quips (a particular highlight being “I’m bummed this is the FOURTH year in a row I was left out of the In Memoriam #Oscars #NotDeadYet”) I’m sure it also led them to look at what was actually happening at The Academy Awards, sucking them deeper into the conversation.

This is an issue that is being noticed across the events sector. Anyone can say what they like about an awards ceremony, a product launch or any other major occasion as long as they have access to the internet. Before the rise of social media, The Academy Awards would only have to worry about how the invited guests and media perceived the ceremony. Now, event organisers must consider what social media users may be saying, how they will handle online conversations when things go wrong, the need to respond to complaints almost immediately and the prospect that individuals (like Culkin) or companies may hijack event-related hashtags to promote their own services, products or opinions.

The Academy certainly missed out on the opportunity to interact with Culkin in the midst of his persistent tweeting. As so many major brands have done with consumers who directed some “banter” at them on social media, the movie institute could have easily responded to the actor with something equally as funny, thus making him a part of their own conversation and showing that his words weren’t threatening, they were helpful.