Pardon the pedantic digression, but with the new Oscar year kicking off, we all need to get on the same page: We just celebrated the 2013 Oscars. Next year, we'll celebrate the 2014 Oscars. No matter what year the actual ceremony takes place in. Adjust accordingly.
This isn't that difficult a concept to grasp, but just like everything in life, 80+ years of tradition are being torn asunder by Google. This never used to be an issue up for debate! The Godfather was released in 1972. The Godfather was the Best Picture of 1972. The Godfather won Best Picture at the 1972 Oscars. Yes, those Oscars took place in 1973, but why would anyone want to confuse the issue by calling those the 1973 Oscars? The Academy knew this, which is why for decades it referred to its ceremonies by the year for which it was honoring. Simple. Intuitive. Correct.
Then came the stupid internet. Web sites covering the Oscars want to make sure that people searching for their information find it in the quickest way possible. And if John and Jane Q. Dipshit want to know who's nominated for this weekend's Oscars, they type "Oscar nominees," glance at their calendars, and type 2014, because she doesn't know better. So by the standards of SEO, an acronym for a Latin phrase that translates roughly to "The Dark Lord Sauron," labeling your Oscar content with the year the ceremony takes place in (and thus the year when you will be getting most Google searches from Jane up there) just makes good sense.
But it is STUPID. And wrong. And ruining everything.
You'd think that the official Oscars web site would offer some guidance on this issue. But it seems those creeps on the SEO Council got to them, too.
For shame, Emma and Lupita.
We should also not absolve IMDb of its guilt in this arena. They have been mis-identifying the years of Oscar nominations/wins for years, and it's been slowly eroding at the fabric of our ability to hold a proper conversation about the Oscars.
"Oh, you're blowing this out of proportion!" you say. "What's the real harm?" you say. Well, I will tell you. Have you ever played QuizUp? The trivia app is addictive and a fun way to prove to your friends that you're smarter than they are. But what happens when QuizUp can't keep track of how they're labeling Oscar years from question to question?
This question at the right is correct. Meryl Streep did win the 1982 Best Actress Oscar for Sophie's Choice, because Sophie's Choice was a 1982 movie, and the fact that Meryl walked her pregnant self up to the podium in the year 1983 matters not one iota.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest did not win a 1976 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Nor did it win a 1976 Oscar for Best Actress or Best Actor or Best Picture, because One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 film that triumphed at the 1975 Oscars.
We're trying to have a society here, QuizUp. Do your part.
Please, good men and women of the internet. We need an orderly, rational, and most of all correct way to discuss the Academy Awards. Web traffic is important, but is it more important than THE TRUTH? I think not. This is why The Wire's predictions for next year's Oscars are predictions for the 2014 Oscars. Please recognize our self-evident rightness and follow our lead, won't you? Good talk.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.