Will Smith’s slap in the face at the Oscars wasn’t the first time an unexpected moment during a live TV entertainment event has left your jawbones in awe. Here are some other notables:
THE JANET JACKSON SUPER BOWL SHOW
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were nearing the end of their “Rock Your Body” duet at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show when he ripped off her bustier, briefly revealing a bare breast with a sunburst nipple shield. The scale of the event, with some 90 million spectators, made it a huge moment. Broadcaster CBS insisted it was as surprised as viewers at home, and it’s still unclear today who it was. The phrases “wardrobe malfunction” and “nipplegate” joined the lexicon in its wake, a crackdown on television “indecency” was launched, and Jackson’s career never fully recovered.
KANYE INTERRUPT TAYLOR SWIFT
19-year-old Taylor Swift was thrilled to accept the ‘Man From The Moon’ trophy at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye West took part in her celebration. Appearing on stage at Radio City Music Hall, he took the microphone and said that while he was happy for Swift, “Beyonce had one of the best videos ever.” He shrugged and handed the microphone back to a clearly crestfallen Swift, left alone as the crowd screamed in shock. The bad blood between the music megastars persisted.
WHOOPS! WRONG ENVELOPE
When Warren Beatty opened the envelope supposedly containing the name of the 2017 Oscars Best Picture winner, he appeared briefly confused before showing it to co-host Faye Dunaway, who anointed “La La Land” with the Oscar. Beatty’s face was a sign that something had gone wrong: he had been given the wrong envelope. After nearly 2 minutes of bad actors and producers celebrating on stage, the record was corrected. “Moonlight” had won. The accountants on duty that night lost – they were reassigned.
SINEAD O’CONNOR’S RIP
During rehearsals for her 1992 “Saturday Night Live” performance of the Bob Marley song, “War,” singer Sinead O’Connor held up a picture of a child killed by police. But during the live broadcast, she held up a picture of Pope John Paul II hanging on her mother’s wall and tore it up to protest sexual abuse by priests. Sentencing was swift; even Frank Sinatra called her “a stupid broad”. Looking back years later, O’Connor wrote in a memoir, “I feel like having a No. 1 record derailed my career, and my tearing up of the picture set me back on the right path.”
Bob Dylan was in the midst of a career renaissance, being invited to perform his song “Love Sick” at the Grammy Awards in 1998. As he was singing, a shirtless man with the words “soy bomb” written across his chest appeared behind in a strange contort dance before being hustled by security. Performance artist Michael Portnoy had been hired to stand in the background but, as he later explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “it was such a perfect format to do something inscrutable.”
“AND THE NEW MISS UNIVERSE IS…”
It was the culminating moment of the 2015 Miss Universe Awards, and host Steve Harvey dramatically announced the winner, Miss Colombia. She stayed on stage for a few minutes and reveled in the applause, waving the Colombian flag and blowing kisses. The crown was placed on his head. Then Harvey approached sheepishly. “I have to apologize,” he said. She was actually the first runner-up. Miss Philippines was the winner. Harvey admitted the error, which made television atrocious.
LET’S MAKE THE SERIES
Doing streaks, or running naked in a public place, was a thing in 1974. Ray Stevens even had a hit song about it. So it couldn’t have come as a complete surprise when Los Angeles teacher Robert Opel stripped and rained on stage at that year’s Oscars as actor David Niven spoke . Opel had supposedly posed as a journalist to gain entry. It is suspected to be staged: Opel, who was murdered in an attempted robbery in 1979, later appeared backstage to talk about his stunt. Either way, Niven reacted confidently, joking, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that the only laugh a man will get in his life is likely to be stripping down and showing his flaws?”