Let It Go

03.05.14

John Travolta and the Birth of the Adele Dazeem Phenomenon

As he took the stage on Sunday night, John Travolta probably had no idea that he was about to launch an entire career (of a fictional person).

The biggest star of this year's Oscars wasn't Jared Leto's ombré or Lupita Nyong'o's ribcage. Rather, it was a newcomer on the Hollywood scene: Adele Dazeem. Never heard of her? That's because she doesn't exist.

John Travolta’s role at the Academy Awards was to introduce singer Idina Menzel’s performance of Frozen’s “Let It Go.” As he took the stage on Sunday night, he probably had no idea that he was about to launch an entire career (of a fictional person). The actor, who appeared to be suffering from a serious case of too-tight toupee, struggled with Menzel's name, eventually landing on the comically mispronounced Adele Dazeem. 

Host Ellen DeGeneres tried to salvage the flub by correctly addressing Idina Menzel post-performance (see, its not so hard!), but the Internet was already on the prowl. Like a pack of rabid size 0 celebs attacking a box of pizza, theater enthusiasts, Frozen fanatics, and John Travolta apologists took to social media in droves. First came the Twitter reactions.

Next, the requisite GIF's, Photoshopped album covers, and faux-Wikipedia pages. Not to mention the creation of Adele Dazeem's own parody Twitter account, an honor formerly reserved for Angelina Jolie's left leg.

But Adele Dazeem’s meteoric rise to fame could not be constrained by 140 characters. Dazeem quickly became a small screen sensation, earning mentions in both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien's Monday late night monologues. Fallon even went so far as to open with a Dazeem dig: "Welcome to the ‘Tonight Show!’ I'm your host, Jimmy Fallon, or as John Travolta would call me, Jelan Fejallah.” On Tuesday night, David Letterman titled his Top Ten list "Top Ten Ways to Mispronounce Idina Menzel."

The Dazeem sensation arguably hit its peak with the Slate Adele Dazeem Name Generator, a widget designed to Travoltify any name. By giving every Internet troll the opportunity to imagine John Travolta flubbing their own name, Slate truly rendered the Dazeem phenomenon a meme of the people. 

No one really knows why Travolta pronounced Idina Menzel's name the way that he did. Was it an honest mistake? Was he in his right mind? Was it intentional and, if so, why? Was it a conscious effort on Travolta's part to definitively prove that he is NOT a fan of musical theater ? While theories abound, one thing is undeniable: as Adele Dazeem's fame rises, Idina Menzel's career prospects have never been better.

Clearly, Menzel isn't wasting time complaining about Travolta's gaffe. She's too busy giving adorable performances of "Let It Go" and preparing to star in If/Then, a new Broadway musical set to open on March 30th. According to The Washington Post, box office receipts for the show doubled after Menzel/Dazeem's Oscars night performance. We figure the more popular Adele Dazeem comes, the more attention the incredibly talented Menzel will receive. Plus, increased fame should come with the added bonus of a decrease in future name mispronunciations. 

But this story wouldn't be complete without a mystifying comment by John Travolta (or, as he would call himself, “Jan Thozomas”) himself. Travolta released a statement following the controversy, saying, "I've been beating myself up all day. Then I thought…What would Idina Menzel say? She'd say, 'Let it go, let it go!' Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!" Is it just us, or does this strange apology read like it was run through the Travoltifyer? Maybe the sincerity was lost in translation.