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Moonlight's Oscars envelope became an instant internet meme

It’s the second big “blank page” meme of the year.

89th Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Moonlight certainly isn’t the first underdog film to pull off a surprise win. But after the chaos of last night’s Oscars finale, its (extremely deserved) win is now forever associated with the Great Envelope Scandal of 2017.

The shock and confusion caused by the question of which envelope was delivered and read onstage for the Best Picture award consumed viewers following along on the internet.

A mix-up of the kind that occurred at Sunday night’s ceremony can really only incur one response from the internet: memes.

Immediately, the envelope meme was equated with other recent surprise upsets of our time.

Meme-happy Oscar viewers quickly got to work inserting countless jokes, alternate movie titles, political references, and preexisting memes onto the now-famous blank page.

Interestingly, this is the second “blank page” meme of the year to make waves, following Donald Trump’s defiant executive order signing ceremony, which quickly turned into an “insert thing here” meme.

Of course, the Oscars aren’t usually subject to such irreverent meme-making unless it’s prompted by a staged gag, like Ellen DeGeneres’s famous selfie, or a particularly juicy reaction from the live audience in attendance. It’s rare to see something onstage take off and go viral of its own accord, unless it’s an impromptu flub like the famous “Adele Dazeem” meme prompted by John Travolta’s onstage butchering of Idina Menzel’s name. So something as unexpected and unscripted on the Oscar stage as Sunday night’s shocking finale was bound to spark a flurry of memes.

Watch: Moonlight wins Best Picture in a chaotic scene