Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Oscars Producers Are Tone-Deaf

I've written before about this year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which you can read here, and now comes the news that only 3 of the 5 Best Song nominees were invited to perform at the ceremony, ostensibly as a way to shorten the telecast, which is always accused of being overlong and running overtime.

Now, that right there is a stupid decision. If you don't invite all the nominees to perform, then you're making a decision about who is more important and who is less. Notably, the showrunners would have to assume (know?) that those left out have zero chances of winning the Oscar, because if they had any chances, how embarrassing would it be to not have them perform onstage??!

And here I was, naively trusting that the votes were known only to the accounting firm in charge of tabulating the results...

Anyway, given all the controversy surrounding the lack of African American acting nominees for the second year in a row, you would think the Academy would bend over backwards to avoid any more strife by leaving out the first and only transgender recipient of an Academy Award nomination in the history of the Oscars!!

And you'd be wrong.

From Towleroad:
Because the Academy picked only viably commercial acts to perform this year and excluded the other two best song nominees from taking the stage, ANOHNI (fka Antony Hegarty), the only transgender performer to ever have been nominated for an Oscar, will not be attending the ceremony.
This sends an incredibly bad faith message to nominees — if you’re not famous pop stars, your nominations are “lesser than”. And in a year where the Academy has been the subject of immense criticism for their lack of diversity they’ve essentially excluded the sole trans nominee (Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons fame who co-wrote and sings “Manta Ray”) from valuable air time.

ANOHNI also addressed the controversy, and her comments are incredibly heartbreaking, truthful, and powerful:
I am the only transgendered performer ever to have been nominated for an Academy Award, and for that I thank the artists who nominated me. (There was a trans songwriter nominee named Angela Morley in the early ’70s who did some great work behind the scenes.) I was in Asia when I found out the news. I rushed home to prepare something, in case the music nominees would be asked to perform. Everyone was calling with excited congratulations. A week later, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, and the Weeknd were rolled out as the evening’s entertainment with more performers “soon to be announced.” Confused, I sat and waited. Would someone be in touch? But as time bore on I heard nothing…
I imagined how it would feel for me to sit amongst all those Hollywood stars, some of the brave ones approaching me with sad faces and condolences. There I was, feeling a sting of shame that reminded me of America’s earliest affirmations of my inadequacy as a transperson. I turned around at the airport and went back home.

Her full post can be read here, and this is the wonderful song that we won't get to hear at the Oscars tomorrow night:

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