Movies & TV

Here's Why Transgender Oscar Nominee Anohni Won't Attend Awards

"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."

Much like the Grammys, the Oscars are an increasingly obsolete ceremony inching towards complete cultural irrelevance and desperately out-of-touch. The mishandling of diversity throughout the programming of the night is thoroughly evident. Now, transgender nominee Anohni is speaking out against the organization: despite being nominated, Anohni was not asked to perform at the awards at all, while other artists (some not even nominated in any categories) were added to the lineup.

Anohni, formerly known as Antony Hegarty (of the band Antony and the Johnsons), has penned an open letter to explain her refusal to attend. In the letter, Anohni pops off at the Oscars not only over her snub, but over their general complicity with a handful of capitalist evils. Here's some of the most salient parts of the diatribe:

"Last night I tried to force myself to get on the plane to fly to L.A. for all the nominee events, but the feelings of embarrassment and anger knocked me back, and I couldn't get on the plane. 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."

"I want to be clear — I know that I wasn’t excluded from the performance directly because I am transgendered. I was not invited to perform because I am relatively unknown in the U.S., singing a song about ecocide, and that might not sell advertising space. It is not me that is picking the performers for the night, and I know that I don't have an automatic right to be asked.

But if you trace the trail of breadcrumbs, the deeper truth of it is impossible to ignore. Like global warming, it is not one isolated event, but 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 U.S. to crush our dreams and our collective spirit...

In the United States it is all about money: those who have it and those who don't. Identity politics are often used as a smokescreen to distract us from this viral culture of wealth extraction. When we are not extracting wealth from nature, we are extracting it from the working and middle classes."

"So I have decided not to attend the Academy Awards this election year. 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. They are going to try to convince us that they have our best interests at heart by waving flags for identity politics and fake moral issues. But don't forget that many of these celebrities are the trophies of billionaire corporations whose only intention it is to manipulate you into giving them your consent and the last of your money. They have been paid to do a little tap dance to occupy you while Rome burns."

You can read the full open letter over on Pitchfork.

And here's Anohni's Oscar nominated song, "Manta Ray," from the documentary film Racing Extinction:

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