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« Rest in Peace Harper Lee (1926-2016) | Main | Interview: David Lang on "Simple Song No. 3" and Storytelling through Music »
Friday
Feb192016

Breaking News: The Academy Makes Yet Another Diversity Blunder / Plays Favorites in "Original Song"

News just broke that performances of Original Song nominees Youth's "Simple Song No. 3" (read our interview) and Facing Extinction's "Manta Ray" have been nixed from the Oscar broadcast, the producers citing "time constraints" for the always lengthy show. Performances of the other three nominated songs by Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, and Sam Smith are still in play.

TFE must express rage at yet another stupid Academy blunder. 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.

As a longtime fan of Antony and as a member of the LGBT community this enrages me. Diversity is about more than just skin color.  Here's J Ralph & Antony's nominated song. And do yourself a favor and get acquainted with Antony Hegarty's music because it's brilliant.

Antony Hegarty

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Reader Comments (37)

disgusting. either they ALL get to perform OR NOBODY does.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergary

Incredibly stupid and tone-deaf. Who does their PR? Surely they'll reverse this.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Man, they are so seriously insulated, they must live and work inside brick walls. How insulting to those artists and the filmmakers those songs are from.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Uugggghhhh. I HATE this. They had an opportunity to have Sumi Jo perform at the Oscars!

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoFo

JOFo --Right? Nix the Asian and the Trans women so another old white guy can perform -- apparently they're adding a performance from the Foo Fighters or something?

February 19, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

That is ridiculous. All or none of them. Cut back on the inane banter and non-essential montages.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I've been wondering about this.

FYI, the amazingly talented trans artist Antony Hegarty is now calling herself Anohni (and using a female pronoun).

Also, the film is about the danger the oceans are in, so the loss here is not only around gender identity but around environmental awareness.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

This is OUTRAGEOUS. And as you correctly said Nathaniel, it's both blatant star fucking and anathema to their goal of solving the diversity problem. What next? Will they ask non-famous nominated actors in the future to just not show up at the ceremony so only famous people can be in the audience? Ridiculous.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteph Bello

I mean, I'd be happier if all five got cut, but cutting the Asian woman and the transwoman for the fucking Foo Fighters?

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAR

AR - Agreed. I object to this category, leave songwriting awards to the Grammys, but this was a bad move.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Because everyone will be waiting with bated fucking breath for that Sam Smith performance.

How could you be sending any other message than saying that your nomination is viewed as lesser than?? If it's truly a time constraint, they've condensed all of the nominees into a short montage before (the Aimee Mann "Save Me" year). If it's a fame thing, they've had more famous people perform before (Antonio Banderas performing "Al Otro Lado del Rio" from THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES). What a slap in the face.

It's genuinely disheartening that they would disregard this PR angle. It either says that they don't consider trans inclusivity important or that they are out of touch with their own nominees.

February 19, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Agreed. It's beyond ridiculous. Also, wouldn't it be embarrassing if one of the two songs that are not being performed ended up winning? Feeling disgusted about this.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCS

Wow. So the one thing I was really looking forward to, seeing Hegarty perform, is not going to happen. Here was hoping the performance would open up a whole new batch of fans previously unfamiliar with his wonderful work..much like Elliott Smith's Oscar performance in 1997 did, at least for me. Sickening.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNederama

This is fucking bullshit. We're back to the days of treating this category like a bad joke.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

*head explodes*

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

Would it have been THAT HARD to put all five songs into a 7-10 minute medley? That's surely less than the current three performances would take but still give every nominated song a chance to be heard.

This is so disgusting, I can't even. "Even though you got a nomination, no one saw your film and your performer is an unknown, so SORRY, we don't have time for you!" UGH.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

"But remember, folks: Sam Smith is gay, Diane Warren is a woman and The Weeknd is Afro-Canadian. So there's yer stinkin' diversity!"

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

You wouldn't show clips of 3 of the acting nominees and not the other 2 would you? Why would anyone sign off on this being a sensible idea?!

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMikey C

The producers are being cruel. Everyone should have two minutes to perform a portion of their song. Anyone who has seen I'm Not There or owns a latter-day Bjork album has heard his/her voice.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Oh God just when you think the Oscars couldn't get worse than this and they keep trying to commit suicide.
Everyone needs to perform. I mean these 5 songs are the only worthy musical performances of the night!

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterFadhil

Yeah... This was not a smart move.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Oh that's a bunch of crap. Fuck you Oscars!

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

It's Racing not Facing Extinction. I'd rather they not perform any of them because they all are pretty unlistenable. 2 documentary dirges, 2 falsettos and an endless aria. They're cutting their losses, the ceremony is going to grind to a halt 3 times instead of 5.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKirby

NO FUCKING WAY!!!!

What is CBI's email?

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

This is just ridiculous. It's not even like Antony Hegarty is some unknown. He's won a Mercury Prize! And the YOUTH compose is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Who watching the Oscars is going to be more interested in seeing the Foo Fighters do... do... what, exactly? Sing over a montage of movies about white dudes, maybe?

This just makes no sense at all. Seriously, just condense them down to a mid-show medley and you'd be fine. So stupid. The Academy just do. not. get. it.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

If only there can be at least one high profile person to pen an open letter to CBI denouncing this stupidity. Really hope they come to their senses.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCS

OMG, noooooooo. The Manta Ray song is my favorite! I'm so sad. Ugh. That song moves me so much, I would've loved to see it performed.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

This is one of their worst decisions ever and everybody knows they made a lot of bad decisions through the years!

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

If Lady Gaga and Sam Smith decide not to perform in solidarity with the others maybe they will fix this.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertom

Yes, for me the songs would be an all-or-nothing deal. Surely, as a producer, you would put the key things into the schedule and work around them? And I would imagine the key things would be all the awards presentations, clips for the acting nominees and the nominated Best Pictures, and live performances of the songs (and, of course, the presentations of the Honorary Awards, but I guess that ship has sailed). There are always a few wasted moments at the Oscars - I dunno, a montage of villains in films starting with the letter G - and it seems that, once again, something essential is going to be sidelined to make way for more of that sort of thing.

Oh, and I love Antony and the Johnsons' album 'I Am a Bird Now', which won the Mercury Prize in 2005. Such a beautiful record.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

It's an inane decision, sure, but I never got why the song category always gets a disproportionate amount of time on the telecast. A total of 30 seconds worth if clips for cinematography or editing and some 15 minutes for a category that was relevant in the heydays of the Hollywood musical but gets less relevant with each passing year? The Oscars should be about celebrating movies. It's not the Grammys.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDieter

If this is cause they're planning a tribute (remember the 10 year anniversary of discovering musicals) I'm gonna be damn mad.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

I have nothing more to add on the many ways this news is gross, except to remark that they're cutting two sure-to-be-interesting performances and replacing them with Dave Grohl, the lamest person in the world. I mean, come on! I mean, I understand the mindset when they go courting the millennial, but the Grohl demographic is older than me (and straighter, and whiter, and not at all interested in who takes Best Makeup & Hairstying.)

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

So, J. Ralph is now holding the (dubious) record for a person who got nominated TWICE for song who were TWICE nixed a live performance? (because, in case you forgot, even "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice got the same treatment)

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarco70go

Last year I was on a plane/in airports, so for the first time since the 1989 ceremony (!) I did not watch the event live.

This year, I kinda think I'm not even gonna bother. It's just a whole big mess of unfairness and I'm kinda over it. I'll watch the winners pop up on IMDB.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Seeing the performance of Simple Song #3 was gonna be one of the evening's highlights for me!! That's ridiculous.

Imagine if they did this to the acting categories. Sorry Gabrielle and Carey we just discovered you and most people out there don't know who you are anyway - we're just play Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren clips. Show length. Gotta keep it moving.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

This is total BS. Sumi Jo is an absolute superstar in the opera world. And that song highlights how diverse these nominees are ... not the performers, necessarily, but the actual songs. I would think they would want to highlight that they have diversity in the types of music they recognize. Whatever. I wasn't going to watch anyway. What a wasted year.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

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