NEW YORK: You can simply tune into the Oscars. Or you can watch them with the peanut gallery on Twitter.
While Hollywood parades in tuxedos and gowns, grandly celebrating itself, a freewheeling cacophony of quips and sarcasm – something like a digital, million-times multiplied version of The Muppet Show’s Statler and Waldorf – will provide a riotous counter-narrative to the pomp.
The second-screen experience is never better than on Oscar night, when a separate (some say superior) entertainment experience plays out on social media. The running commentary, with comedians and others parodying the stars’ sometimes laughable speeches, has become central to the event.
It’s “like watching the show with one hundred million of your drunkest friends,” says humorist and author Andy Borowitz. Last year, he succinctly summarized the previous two best-picture winners, “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist,” as “an English dude who couldn’t speak” and “a French dude no one could hear.”
The Academy Awards live tweeting stream is particularly captivating because it provides an antidote to the buttoned-down, on-screen glamour. Comedians dutifully assemble.
“You gotta say something,” says comedian Billy Eichner. “It’s cathartic. You’ve got to just get it out on Twitter because if not, we’re all going to be bottled up thinking about how awkward Anne Hathaway made it for one billion people in real time. I don’t begrudge her the award. I’m just saying she’s a ridiculous person.”
As host of “Billy on the Street,” Eichner aggressively and comically interviews passers-by about pop culture. In Hathaway, Eichner recognizes a great actress, but also a striving theater geek.
The Oscars has become one of the biggest social media events of the year. Last year’s telecast at one point set a then-record for 18,718 tweets-per-second. Were there a statuette for “Most Tweeted Tweet,” the 2011 would have gone to The Onion, which lamented, “How rude – not a single character from Toy Story 3 bothered to show up.”
Last year, “The Artist” may have won best picture, but Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” easily bested it, according to Twitter metrics analyst TweetReach, with 110,179 tweets to 78,509.
This year, the academy has partnered with Twitter to track the top categories with an index measuring the percentage of positive tweets about the nominees. As of Tuesday, neither “Argo” nor “Lincoln” was favored, but rather David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” If this the dark horse in the best picture race wins Sunday, Twitter will have predicted it.