Lady Gaga was ready to have her moment at the Oscars. Her neck glittering with a Tiffany’s necklace, she looked regal in an Alexander McQueen gown, and millions of people anxiously waited to see if she'd take home awards for Best Original Song and Best Actress. After all, Gaga had earned this; she'd spent over a decade proving her chops, moving up from Lower East Side dive bars to Madison Square Garden sell-out shows. But even though she did win, all anyone could talk about post-Oscars was her chemistry-laden performance with co-star Bradley Cooper. Gaga's time at the Oscars became less about her success and more about a rumored romance — and sadly, it was far from the first time that a man had, even inadvertently, stolen a woman’s on-stage moment in the sun.
That's not to say it was Cooper's fault that Gaga's win seemingly earned less attention than the performance, of course, or that Gaga was upset that the romance rumors (which involved people questioning if Cooper was cheating on Irina Shayk, the partner and mother of his child with Gaga) took hold. A few days post-Oscars, she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to discuss the performance and said, “People saw love and guess what? That’s what we wanted you to see. It was a love song.” But the point is, Gaga shouldn't have had to comment on the rumors at all. Her win — which should've been a cause for celebration — became overshadowed by gossip. Ultimately, it's the narrative we as a society have created, one that rewards bad behavior that considers it normal, according to Dr. Clarissa Silva, PhD, a behavioral scientist and relationship coach.
With Gaga and Cooper, for instance, people are happy to reward the "bad behavior" of a rumored affair and freak out over the excitement instead, Silva says. “The main reason some [people] celebrate the perception of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper cheating on his girlfriend and daughter is because they are internalizing the aspects that they don't have in their lives by watching the idealized version of what they should have."
Although it's indeed frustrating that the Oscars performance with Cooper and the public's reaction to it has taken away from Gaga's win, it's important to note that it definitely doesn't seem like Cooper was purposely stealing his co-star's spotlight. Yet even if inadvertent and non-malicious, it still acts as an example of women's stars being dimmed by men — and many other times, it's with cases in which men seemed to purposely steal the limelight.
But why does this happen in the first place? According to Silva, it can be due in part to the "ego-driven" Hollywood industry. Then, couple that with the "patriarchal reward system society we live in," she says. And then it gets worse when the public validates it by feeding into the frenzy. Just look at what happened in these cases:
Kanye West Interrupting Taylor Swift At The 2009 VMAs
In 2009, West jumped onto the VMA stage and grabbed the microphone from 19-year-old Swift, who had just won Artist of the Year. He made the now-infamous proclamation of, “I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Maybe he intended to lift up another hard-working woman, but instead, West just made the moment about himself. Swift was left shell-shocked when she should have been celebrating a huge achievement, and the night — as well as the internet for weeks, if not months and years after — was completely eclipsed by that one action.
Adrian Brody Kissing Halle Berry At The 2003 Oscars
Although this wasn't Berry's win, it still is an example of a man making a woman's time on-stage all about him. During his 2003 Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actor, The Pianist star Brody pulled in presenter Berry for an aggressive kiss. She later stated to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that she had no idea the kiss was coming but understood how “out of your head” winning an Oscar can be, so she just went with it. Brody, meanwhile, told Vanity Fair in 2015 that the moment had been “surreal” and that “time slowed down.” Regardless of what was going on in his head at the time, it's frustrating that Berry was made to look like a trophy.
James Franco Leaving Anne Hathaway To Drown At The 2011 Oscars
Though both actors were roasted by the masses for their cringeworthy time as Oscars hosts, in which Franco frequently left an enthusiastic Hathaway hanging with one-word, mumbled responses, Hathaway got it way worse. The night spawned literal hate thinkpieces about her, and contributed largely to the unfair "Hathahate" trend that lasted years. Franco, however, came out more or less unscathed, perhaps because we as a society tend to hold female actors to a higher standard than male actors. Hathaway was expected to be poised and perfect, while Franco was allowed to be quirky and odd. His performance ruined what should have been a great career milestone for her.
Offset Crashing Cardi B's Set At The 2018 Rolling Loud Festival
In December, amidst cheating rumors and a public breakup, Cardi B’s husband Offset crashed the stage during one of her concerts at the Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles. He rolled out a floral arrangement that read “Take Me Back Cardi" and tried to apologize in front of the crowd, while Cardi, as she explained later, was surprised and uncomfortable. And no wonder — Offset showed up to her work unannounced and interrupted a carefully choreographed routine just so he could bring their personal issues public without her knowledge. Cardi's festival set became about her partner's "romantic gesture," not her time to shine as an artist.
Jack Parlance Oddly Presenting Marisa Tomei With Her Oscar In 1993
Although many fans were thrilled that Marisa Tomei won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny, her moment was overshadowed by the actions of the award's presenter, Jack Parlance. Rumors swirled that Parlance, known for eccentric behavior, read the wrong name off the card, and although the myth was debunked, it's discussed still to this day. Someone else’s rumored error in judgement and the public's eagerness for drama marred what should've been beautiful honor for a hardworking artist.
It’s a sad reality that this pattern exists, and that some men continue to overshadow the successes and efforts of talented women. And it's also distressing that we continue to give these instances tons of attention, feeding into the taking away of women's spotlights.
“Society has systematically and historically disempowered women [in order] to mask male fragility,” Silva says. “Think about all of the contributions women have made in society centennials ago that we are learning of only now. I am hopeful that we will see future change in our reward-system-based society.” It's long past time we let women celebrate their wins, without men taking over the narrative.