Transgender Oscar Nominee Anohni Explains Why She Won’t Be Attending the Awards Show

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The performer shares her problem with the Oscars in a powerful, unfiltered critique.

A performer named Anohni wrote an essay for Pitchfork explaining why she won’t be attending the Academy Awards on Sunday.

She is the first transgender performer to be nominated for an Oscar but she writes that attending would be a humiliating and frustrating ordeal she doesn’t want to endure. Why? Because unlike many of her fellow nominees in the Best Original Song category, Anohni’s performance at the awards show was cut due to “time constraints,” but it’s hard to ignore the fact that her music isn’t commercial top 40 music.

“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,” she wrote. “(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 was besieged with people asking me if I was going to perform.”

Anohni went on to explain the pressure she felt to dutifully attend, despite her feels of humiliation at being excluded from the event’s proceedings. “Everyone told me that I still ought to attend, that a walk down the red carpet would still be ‘good for my career.’” The 45-year-old artist even went to the airport to fly to LA for the event, but at the last moment she went back home. “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.”

Here’s Anohni’s Oscar-nominated song, “Manta Ray.”

She concluded by not only pointing out the Academy’s complicity in America’s corporate culture, but the celebrities who will be attending on Sunday as well.

“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. These are the last days of a great American fake-out sponsored by ExxonMobil, Walmart, Amazon, Google, and Philip Morris. America, a country that is no longer contained by physical borders, aspires only for more power and control. I want to maximize my usefulness and advocate for the preservation of biodiversity and the pursuit of human decency within my sphere of influence.”

Read her full essay here.