Hey, let’s cut the Oscars accountants some slack

Anyone is capable of that level of work cock-up, says Caroline O’Donoghue. But it shouldn’t be your legacy

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

Since Sunday, the world has been in a state of agitated excitement because of What Happened At The Oscars. It has been the cultural equivalent of there being a dog in the school yard while class is on: we want to get back to our lessons, sure, but MISS, MISS, THERE'S A DOG IN THE YARD, AND WARREN BEATTY READ OUT THE WRONG NAME AT THE OSCARS! 

Yes, it's a shame that it happened. It's a shame that Moonlight's win has to be overshadowed by a massive envelope cock-up. But from a pure, shameless, voyeuristic perspective, it made a very dull three-hour awards ceremony incredibly exciting. Look, the people who run the Oscars can mess up too! 

The fly in the ointment, however, is just how much flack the accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, are taking for this. The accountancy firm were tasked with tallying the ballots for the ceremony,  and two members of staff – Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz – were safeguarding the envelopes with the winners names on them. Moments before the mix-up, Cullinan tweeted a picture of best actress winner Emma Stone, and this moment is being cited as the moment where things started to go tits-up. Cullinan was too distracted by Emma Stone to do his job properly, and as a result, a spokesperson has confirmed that the two accountants will not participate in future shows.

And it’s all a bit… mean, isn’t it? Like, Cullinan undoubtedly messed up, but so did Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. It seems like, as the only-non famous person in this equation, Cullinan should get a pass on being named by the press. Because at the end of the day: if, in two years, I google Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the top result will still be Bonnie & Clyde. If I google Bill Cullinan, I will only get this story. Unless Bill Cullinan manages to cure cancer or walk on Mars, this simple, frivolous work cock-up will be the defining moment of his entire life. Who cares if Bill Cullinan is a good dad or buys excellent, thoughtful birthday presents? His epitaph will always, always be “accountant who fucked up the Oscars”, and I think there’s something very cruel about that.

His epitaph will always, always be “accountant who fucked up the Oscars”, and I think there’s something very cruel about that 

Everyone at The Pool seems to have cocked-up in a similar way, but had the fortunate amnesty of their jobs not being televised. Frankie Graddon, someone I would generally cite third or fourth on a list of “Women I Know Who Have Their Shit Together”, once sent an email to thousands of Pool readers advertising a “sonic bush” as opposed to a sonic brush. “I broke my boss' sat nav on my first day of my first job as a reporter,” says Zoe Beaty. “I once got £50 worth of the wrong keys cut when my boss already hated me,” chimes in Alex Haddow. 

I’ve made a million cock-ups at work, but because SO much of my work involves social media, thousands of people knew about them, rather than dozens. While tweeting for a brand, I tagged the wrong David Cameron – this one was a dog-lover living in New York, not the then-prime minister. I posted a Chinese pack shot on an English Facebook page. I made stupid typos that changed the meaning of the tweet, and it enraged people. I have had to read hundreds of tweets over the years saying that “X brand should FIRE their Social Media Manager!”, as if I wasn’t a real person with bills or flaws. “You want me to lose my job?” I always wanted to tweet back. “You want me to get thrown out of  my flat because I typed “their” instead of “there”?” 

Maybe that’s why I feel particularly prickly about so much of the blame going on this poor accountant, who got a bit carried away with his role at the Oscars: because I know what it’s like. I know how it feels to have otherwise very reasonable people joke about how you should lose your job because you made a simple mistake. Everyone makes mistakes at work, but the vast majority don’t have their mistakes broadcast to everyone in the world. 


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