There has been no shortage of debate and finger pointing about Envelopegate at this year’s Oscars, when “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as Best Picture instead of “Moonlight” because presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the envelope for “La La Land” star Emma Stone as Best Actress. Was it the fault of the accountant who gave them that envelope? Was it Beatty and Dunaway’s fault for not announcing right away that they had the wrong result? Was it all of our fault for angering the gods with our impudence? Now Vox is positing that the real problem wasn’t the envelope, but the card that was in it. Watch above to find out how better typography could have saved the Oscars.
The way the information is printed on the card isn’t the most intuitive according to graphic designer Benjamin Bannister, who proposed an alternative design in which the name of the category and the name of the winner are featured most prominently at the top of the card. It might have been easier for Beatty to recognize and call out the error if the biggest words he had seen were “Best Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone.”
“You can apply the same fix to the card that prompted Steve Harvey to crown the wrong person Miss Universe,” the video explains. Better typographic design could also have helped Florida voters in 2000; some Al Gore supporters mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan in the presidential election because of the awkward layout of the ballot, and the margin between Gore and George W. Bush was notoriously so tight that better typography could literally have swung the election. Just imagine Bush returning to the microphone with a revised Florida ballot in hand to reveal, “There has been a terrible mistake: the president-elect is ‘Moonlight’!”