“Russia has two allies, her army and her navy,” wrote [ru] Twitter funnyman @alcohistory, quoting the famous Tsar Alexander III maxim. “Ukraine also has two allies,” he added, “Jared Leto and the Russian liberal intelligentsia.” It was a reference to Leto's Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech at the Oscars, where he mentioned the troublesome situation in the Crimean peninsula. This part of his speech was cut from the version of the Oscars shown on Russian television the next day (which did not prevent it from being all over Twitter).
Curiously, the only reason it was possible to edit the speeches in the first place, was because the ceremony wasn't being shown live, as was originally planned. RuNet bloggers noticed this early on, wondering if the reason could be the Crimean crisis and fears of “Western subversion.” A few hours before the scheduled start of the show, Russian Internet guru Anton Nosik linked to the Facebook page [ru] of a Russian movie critic, who was supposed to be narrating the ceremony. The critic, Yyri Gladilschikov, said he got a call from Channel One, telling him the deal was off — both the live broadcast and the commentary. Gladilschikov wrote that he wasn't surprised, what with the tense situation in Ukraine:
Вообще-то я и сам сегодня думал: как это мы будем сидеть в студии все в розовеньком и обсуждать, кому достанется статуэтка, когда вокруг все катится в тартарары?
Actually, today I was also thinking: how will we sit in the studio all dressed in pink, and discuss who will get the prize, when everything around us is going to hell in a hand-basket?
Nosik wondered what the reason might be, not buying sudden sensitivity on the part of Russia's main TV channel. He blogged [ru] that there might be three explanations: desire to edit a “politically dangerous” ceremony (not the least because it was to be hosted by openly gay Ellen DeGeneres), some sort of planned action in Crimea that Russian TV would have to cover instead, or a technical snafu that made a live broadcast impossible. Nosik also started a poll, to see which option his readers thought was most likely:
As we can see, Nosik's readers turned out to be politically savvy — with the cutting of Leto's speech, there is little argument that the first reason is the most likely explanation. Ironically Leto was the only one to mention Ukraine, and his speech was the only part of the ceremony cut. Nosik later wrote [ru] that the decision was probably made by Channel One editors who felt like they needed to cut at least something.
Meanwhile, most of the RuNet was still preoccupied with Crimea. Here is a comparison of how “Oscars” and “Crimea” fared in the English and Russian speaking Twitter communities:
Clearly, the Crimean crisis remained the news of the day — although there is a bump in Oscars talk on the RuNet, it's small in comparison to English results. That's not to say that Russians were immune to some of the drama of the night. Much like the rest of the the Internet, RuNet held its breath to see if Leonardo DiCaprio would finally get the nod. He didn't, prompting one blogger to tweet:
Члены Академии, должно быть, заядлые интернет-тролли, ибо решили не лишать нас вечных шуток про Ди Каприо и Оскар, и дали награду другому
— ОЛЕНЬ (@climbingstar) March 3, 2014
The Academy members must be dedicated internet trolls, since they decided not to bereave us of eternal jokes about DiCaprio and the Oscars, and gave the award to someone else.
With the situation in Crimea remaining tense, it is definitely good for everyone to keep a sense of humor: