Singer and songwriter Anohni, who is well known for her rousing lyrics on environmental issues in such songs like “Manta Ray” and “4 Degrees,” has been nominated for an Oscar for the former song which was featured in the 2015 documentary “Racing Extinction.” However, she said that she will not be attending the Oscars this year.
In a lengthy post on her website antonyandthejohnsons.com, she explained that the reason behind her not attending the 88th Academy Awards ceremony was that she was not invited to perform on stage beside more “commercially viable” artistes like Sam Smith and Lady Gaga.
“I have decided not to attend the Academy Awards this election year,” she wrote on her webpage. “I will not be lulled into submission with a few more well-manufactured, feel-good ballads and a bit of good old fashioned T. and A.”
The Oscars has been embroiled in a contentious issue about lack of racial diversity among its nominees, simply known as #OscarsSoWhite. Famous black directors like Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are among those not attending the Academy Awards ceremony this year.
Surely in such troubled times, facing mounting criticism, The Academy would have been a bit more wise and invited a singer like Anohni to sing on their stage, but no.
The singer says she was frustrated at the utter lack of communication from the Academy. “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,” she says.
Even more humiliating for her was the fact that the Oscars website was updated with the fact that Anohni was a transgender person. Such details have since been removed from Oscar.go.com, it appears.
Composer David Lang’s “Simple Song #3” performed by South Korean soprano Sumi Jo was also not invited to perform in the February 28 ceremony.
Anohni feels that the reason she was not invited was because she is unknown in the US and that she sings about important issues like ecocide being committed against nature by humanity. She adds mockingly that such themes “might not sell advertising space.”
She pointed out that the deeper issue is in the ills of society, “a series of events that occur over years to create a system that has sought to undermine me, at first as a feminine child, and later as an androgynous transwoman. It is a system of social oppression and diminished opportunities for transpeople that has been employed by capitalism in the US to crush our dreams and our collective spirit.”
She added that many celebrities attending Oscars project “fake moral issues” and are “trophies of billionaire corporations.”