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Angelina, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Cirque du Soleil

The Oscars have been around for a while now– 84 years for those of you that are keeping track. Sunday’s ceremony tried to play this up, with a theme of classic Hollywood and the appearance of veteran host Billy Crystal (9 Oscars and counting!). The theme even spread to the nominated films, many of which were set in the past. This is in direct contrast to last year’s rocky attempt to appeal to younger audiences with the selection of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts. The ceremony, while it retains a ritualistic and nostalgic appeal to many, is losing viewers yearly and although last night’s viewership was slightly up from last year’s numbers, it was not the most watched award ceremony of the month.

While the Oscars gamely attempted to reference its history and prestige with its chosen theme, it has in reality been a long time since people watched the Oscars–or indeed any of these award shows– just to see the results. These ceremonies are all about the odd spontaneity, mistakes, and unintended jokes that everyone will be talking about the next day. This is where Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs and the rest of the internet make things very interesting. Because these topics are things that are almost impossible to plan for, it is only in the fast paced world of social media that trends can emerge in real time. In setting up our search here at Visible®, for example, we tried to anticipate subjects that might be popular on the night. Though we tapped into some, sometimes the most interesting things to look at are the surprises- the things that people take to Twitter immediately about- and that are impossible to foresee.

So what were some of these non-Oscar talking trends of the night? Sacha Baron Cohen and his ashes colliding with Ryan Seacrest, Angelina Jolie’s right leg, and the awe-inspiring Cirque du Soleil performance came up over and over again online. These are things people are discussing at water coolers across the country and all over social media in these days following the ceremony. We took a look at these topics using our Visible Intelligence® platform:

Top Trends

Share of Voice between top trends

Sacha Baron Cohen vs. Ryan Seacrest

In a shameless attempt to promote his next movie, Sacha Baron Cohen showed up to the Oscars dressed as a Dictator (his latest character) and clutching a jar that he claimed were the ashes of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, explaining that Il’s last wishes were to attend the Oscars. He then proceeded to spill these ashes all over Ryan Seacrest, who reacted with surprise and a bit of anger before security ushered Cohen away.

The spot that the ashes then lay was a popular one, with many a celeb pausing to pose with it. Eventually, a cleaning crew arrived to clean it up:

Tina Fey, Jason Segal observe ashes

Tina Fey with “ashes”; Jason Segal reacts to cleanup crew

What did the social audience think of this stunt? Comments about Sacha Baron Cohen spiked as it happened, but many were negative. It seems that the online viewers largely took Seacrest’s side, with top negative sentiment tweets referencing his Burberry suit.

Angelina’s Right Leg

Angelina's right leg, Jim Rash's right leg

The Descendants Co-Writer Jim Rash pays homage to the leg

Another unexpected internet trend was Angie’s Right Leg, the appearance of which has inspired a twitter handle (with over 20,000 followers in less than 20 hours) and an internet meme “legbombing”, in which the leg is pasted into popular pictures.

It is hard to say whether the trend is due to the dramatic slit in Angelina’s Versace dress, without which the popular leg would not have been exposed, or to the odd pose that she chose to strike, but either way it is sure to appear in pop culture for days to come. As the chart below demonstrates, people are in no way done discussing the limb:

Volume of online conversation

Volume of online conversation continues

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil

Getty Images

Another online talking point was the first-time Oscar performance by acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, whose impressive stunts above the heads of Hollywood’s most famous inspired a range of emotion:

Comments spiked during the performance and many were positive:

Although none of these delightful subjects centers around an Oscar nominee, they certainly made the telecast interesting and compelled much online engagement. As the awards season comes to a close, we look forward to seeing which of these subjects survives to be discussed in the ramp up to Oscars 2013. Personally, I am cheering for Angelina’s leg– left or right– to remain in the spotlight.




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