Amid a night characterized by chaos and confusion, one unsettling question still lingers from this year’s Academy Awards: Why does Nicole Kidman clap like that? What is wrong with Nicole Kidman that she doesn’t know how to clap? Why does it feel like we’ve punched through some ragged hole in the space-time continuum and the mask of normalcy that once barely covered the rictus grin of madness just beneath is now peeling away? Can you please stop clapping like that, Nicole Kidman? You’re freaking everyone out.
Kidman’s version of what you humans call “clapping”—palms lightly touching, fingers rigidly arched away from each other as though embarrassed by such vulgarity—was caught by cameras twice during the broadcast, leading viewers to wonder aloud what she was doing and whether she was okay. Perhaps it was a subtle duress signal, the way captured soldiers might blink in Morse code during hostage videos. Maybe this is just how people clap in Australia, like the applause version of the Coriolis effect. Maybe this is somehow Tom Cruise’s fault.
Whatever the perfectly legitimate personal or scientific reason for Kidman’s condition, “Nicole Kidman doesn’t know how to clap” soon became a hot topic on social media, debated by people who were looking desperately for some form of entertainment during the glitzy, celebrity-studded spectacle. Some speculated that it was just because her nail polish was still wet—Kidman having simply followed the rule that, to avoid chipping, your nail polish must be applied every 90 seconds. Unfortunately that’s just how nail polish works.
Others were less charitable in their assessments.
Finally, some offered that maybe the reason Nicole Kidman doesn’t smack her paws together like some grease monkey who just won $5 at chicken shit bingo is because she was wearing the baubles and finery befitting her station. Had your stubby sausage fingers ever known the touch of jewelry you didn’t fish out of a grocery store gumball machine, you might know that.
But with no official statement still from Kidman, beyond the desperate cries telegraphed by her slapping palms, no one has yet settled on a definitive answer, leaving the world baffled and slightly unnerved by what it just witnessed. Hopefully someone from PricewaterhouseCoopers will come out soon to swap Nicole Kidman’s hands and correct this.