In February 2017, the unthinkable happened: Warren Beatty did something worse than Dick Tracy. The La La Land–Moonlight debacle was significant because it proved that even in this era of expertly plotted showbiz artifice, glorious mayhem can still peek through and, somehow, even the biggest show on earth can make the dumbest mistake.
It also makes you wonder: how many times has this happened before but where a noble producer didn’t honourably flip the envelope to show the audience the truth but just casually walked off with a shrug and the trophy? Best Picture winner of 2006, I’m looking at you.
The Fyre Festival debacle
Here was another happening that revealed the noxious facade behind the shiny lives of Instagram influencers and social media glitterati. The festival’s promise was tropical waters, exclusive champagne parties with Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, the Dionysian sounds of, um, Blink-182; the reality was two pieces of sliced cheese and a garden salad for about $US4000 and a Lord of the Flies-style battle for a wet mattress.
In the fallout, promoter Billy McFarland went to prison; rapper Ja Rule got the words “class action suit” added to his Wikipedia page; and Andy King – the accompanying Netflix doco’s “take one for the team” guy – became a decade’s unlikely icon. “My business partner and my lawyer both felt that it would ruin my career,” he recently told me. “Little did we know that a failed blowjob would make me one of the most popular people in pop culture.” Nice one, 2010s.
Harvey Weinstein’s downfall
One of my guiltier pleasures these days is to go to picture sites, such as Getty Images, and look up photos of people mingling with Harvey Weinstein about five years ago. “You knew, you knew,” you’ll find yourself sneering at Ben Affleck or Bradley Cooper or a preening Dustin Hoffman, one arm warmly wrapped around the disgraced mogul. Not to mention all those eerie pictures alongside promising, up-and-coming starlets – and you thought your family photos were filled with vacant smiles.
MAFS breaks TVs
Sure, Netflix came and introduced us to things such as House of Cards and Stranger Things, while Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad might define the decade’s TV standards but the fact a reality dating show leaning heavily on adultery became Australia’s biggest TV hit in the age of streaming is still remarkable. The show has also really upped the ante on what we’ll accept from reality television; the next logical point is accidental incest or someone getting murdered for ratings. Can’t wait.
Margot Robbie and Chris Hemsworth’s superstardom
I know Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away have a strong track record for nurturing superstar talent (Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Isla Fisher etc), but the Hollywood trajectory of Robbie and Hemsworth has been ridiculous. The usual career projection for local soap stars was long-ago established by Toadfish Rebecchi – 20-odd years toiling in Ramsay Street silliness, a pantomime here and there and then, well, death (maybe an Uber Eats ad first). Definitely not Oscar nominations or starring roles in Marvel blockbusters. We truly are in the end times.
Robert Moran is a culture reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age