They say it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. When you’ve just become the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, you’re certainly ahead, so perhaps it’s fitting that Sam Smith has announced his temporary departure from social media. How temporary? No one can be sure.
It could be the length it takes to drink a shaken martini (if it takes 21 hours, which is the length it’s been since Smith wrote that post), or something a bit more permanent. And of course, the reason Sam Smith is quitting social media for a bit isn’t actually because he’s the first openly gay person to win an Oscar, but rather, it seems, because he insinuated he might be, and isn’t.
On top of his falsely milestone-setting speech, Entertainment Tonight had reported that Smith was hastily told that he wasn’t the first openly gay winner, and the history of previous Oscar recipients was mentioned to him, including two-time recipient, Howard Ashman, who died in 1991. Not knowing who Ashman was, Smith had jokingly replied, “we should date.”
The next day, Smith had quickly clarified on Twitter — after being called out by Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black — that he was aware of his misunderstanding (which stemmed from a previous statement of Ian McKellan’s about a lack of openly gay Best Actor winners). So perhaps we can say that Sam Smith is quitting while he’s ahead… of being somewhat behind.
One can assume that the fact that Black’s post was retweeted 16 thousand times — and that that of course led to a Twitter frenzy — in part led to Smith needing a break. Smith’s mistake was a minor, amusing display of the self-importance of Oscar ceremonies, and hopefully people will take this as such. The fact that Smith is an openly gay pop star is itself very cool, and I hope people can see this as a goofy mistake and a relatively innocent running joke rather than as a cue to actually start bullying an openly gay musician on social media.