Anohni – formerly the lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons who also makes solo music under the mononym ANOHNI – became the first transgender performer to be nominated for an Academy Award when her song “Manta Ray” was picked as a contender for Best Original Song. In spite of this history-making honor, Hegarty has decided not to attend the Oscars ceremony. She explained her reasoning in an essay for Pitchfork.
Anohni said that she decided not to attend after seeing that she was one of two performers whose performances had been cut due to “time constraints.” The final nail in the coffin was the announcement of a performance by the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, who had not been nominated at all.
“It was degrading to watch the articles in Variety, The Daily Telegraph, Pitchfork, Stereogum, etc. start to appear. Eclipsing earlier notices of congratulations, now the papers were naming me as one of two artists to have been “cut” by the Academy due to “time constraints.” In the next sentence it was announced that Dave Grohl, not nominated in any category, had been added to the list of performers.”
After she had decided not to attend, the Oscars included the fact that she was transgender on their trivia page. Hegarty wrote that this felt like rubbing “salt into the wound.”
She went on to say that she doesn’t believe she was excluded because of the fact that she is transgender, noting that a song about the destruction of the Earth from a singer that is relatively unknown in the United States isn’t exactly a ratings booster. However, she can’t fully discount the underlying effect of systemic discrimination against trans people.
“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,” she wrote.
Hegarty ends the essay with an impassioned declaration against the United States in particular and capitalism in general.
“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.”
Check out the whole thing over at Pitchfork and give a listen to ANOHNI’s Academy Award-nominated climate-change apocalypse track “4 Degrees.”