A fuck-up like last night’s Best Picture switcheroo is not the type of thing that happens too often—or ever, really—an unprecedented disaster on the biggest moment of the biggest night of one of the world’s biggest industries. The fact that a billion-mile outside shot like Moonlight could not only usurp hegemonic favorite La La Land but do so while La La Land was actually accepting the award is the sort of high-stakes dramatic turnaround that normally only happens in the movies, when a guy has to defuse a bomb using wire clippers or when two will-they/won’t-they lovers reunite at the last minute at the airport.
Except, hell, these things keep happening, don’t they?
Last summer, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals despite having a record-breaking 73-win regular season (and the two-time MVP). The result was an endless string of memes about things “blowing a 3-1 lead,” and they all returned last night:
But then, last fall, the Cubs won a World Series after a 108-year championship drought, coincidentally against a Cleveland team that had a 3-1 lead themselves, which reawakened all of the 3-1 lead memes and came back again last night:
It still feels too soon to remember election night, when Clinton lost the presidency despite the fact that she 1) won the popular vote and 2) was running against a racist failure artist who didn’t even want to win, but yes, that’s back now, too:
Then there was the Super Bowl, in which the Atlanta Falcons blew a record lead to the New England Patriots, which immediately inspired an onslaught of “Falcons won the popular vote” memes and accordingly was resuscitated last night:
By the time the milquetoast Adele won the Grammy for Album Of The Year over Beyonce’s Lemonade, it was all perceived as part of a massive rift in reality, with further corroboration arriving via Moonlight’s victory:
And so there’s now a sort of cosmic “upset losers” category in people’s minds.
The truth is that a lot of these jokes were already fired up and ready to roll when it was La La Land that won.
At this point, “upset victories keep happening” is sort of like celebrity deaths were in 2016, where each new example was filtered into a grand ongoing tally. The internal logic on them is getting shaky: The Cavs, Moonlight, and Donald Trump were all underdog victories, but the Falcons, Cubs, and Lemonade were not heavily favored, so really this is just a meme about “things winning,” albeit unexpectedly. Still, competitions are surprising! That’s why they’re fun.
One thing’s certain: Steve Harvey loves this meme, because by its reckoning, he was just a harbinger.