With 40 million people worldwide watching the March 4th telecast, organizers attempted to learn from last year's debacle-- an awful lot of people were offended by pretty much everything that came out of Seth McFarlane's mouth-- and chose instead the queen of daytime inoffensiveness, Ellen DeGeneres. ("DeGeneres," Salon.com said, "has styled herself as the safest thing going.")
And safe it was, until John Travolta spoke, introducing Broadway star and Frozen theme belter Idina Menzel as (apparently) "Adele Dazeem."
As Broadway.com put it: “Who the Hell is Adele Dazeem?” This was a shock. Little girls and Broadway fans the world over went ballistic. And they had a reason: Menzel gave a rattled performance of Oscar favorite “Let it Go,” visibly unable to shake the insult.
Within hours of Travolta’s mistake, Frozen fans had transformed discontent into creative mockery aimed at Travolta. Thousands of tweeters started making up their own "Travoltified names" before one comedienne, @alysemigran, tweeted "I wanna put my name through the John Travolta name generator."
The first versions were strictly proof-of-concept: Bustle.com provided detailed written instructions to creating a John Travolta version of your name (example: 1. FIRST SYLLABLE OF YOUR FIRST NAME: PICK YOUR FAVORITE GREASE SONG). E’s Vulture provided a similar on-paper-only solution ("for double vowels and double consonants, drop one/ Feel free to add a "p" to the end.") But all of this amounted to what in the world of the Internet meme passes for an RFP.
By Monday afternoon just such a generator had been created: Slate magazine published a link to a fully-functional web program that would transform your name into its John Travolta pronunciation. (In the interest of disclosure, my name became "Jackson Hargision.")
There it was: from outrage to app in less than 24 hours.
The Slate "Adele Nazeem Name Generator" proves how much internet-based technology has come to augment our enjoyment of broadcast entertainment. A decade ago, we would have sat at our Oscar parties and joked among ourselves. Five years ago we would have posted on our Myspace about it. Last year we would tweet about it-- now we tweet out a link to a dynamic piece of entertainment. We the audience have seamlessly integrated ourselves into the event experience. In fact, without Travolta's flub, you would have less of an event to participate in.
This morning, an app developer heard a cry of the heart from angry fans and created an instant method for them to participate, and although thousands are enjoying it, almost no one notices how revolutionary it is. The Adele Nazeem Name Generator is just the latest proof that internet technology has enabled us to shape live events as much as we are shaped by them.
Let's see what Travolta makes us do next!