Paramount Just Made a Huge Misstep

Really, Paramount? I mean... I can’t... come on. Just three days after the untimely and tragic death of legendary actor Philip Seymour Hoffman by heroin overdose, Paramount Pictures has started plastering Hollywood with grossly insensitive Wolf of Wall Street billboards urging Oscar voters towards The Wolf of Wall Street. Located at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Cienega Boulevard, an image of Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio have the words “BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME” sprawled across them.

At first glance it might give you a bit of a chuckle. But, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that the line comes from Leo’s character Jordan who proclaims, "I use Xanax to stay focused, Ambien to sleep, pot to mellow out, cocaine to wake up and morphine… because it's awesome." Right now, I think Hollywood thinks a glorification of drug use is anything but awesome at this point in time.

The design of the four ads — the other three which state "THE MOVIE OF OUR TIME," "BOLD BRAVE CLASSIC" and "HIS BEST PERFORMANCE EVER" — were meant to sway Oscars voters for the current underdog favorite in the Best Picture and Best Actor race. However, the timing of the “BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME” ad could not be more inappropriate.

Jonah Hill, who is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street, very recently co-starred with Hoffman in the 2011 sports film Moneyball. It will be interesting to see if the young comedian-turned-serious actor addresses this studio’s misstep.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death has left Hollywood in mourning and the Academy Awards will most certainly honor the late actor at this year’s ceremony in what will surely be a very difficult tribute. The very fact that these billboards are trying to win votes feels cheap. I can’t help but think this one particular ad is something Hoffman's friends and colleagues could certainly do without at a time like this. There is absolutely nothing “awesome” about addiction.