At the 90th Academy Awards in 2018, Stevens took the stage to perform “Mystery Of Love,” one of his songs from the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack. Stevens and some backing musicians were on stage for a couple minutes, and his performance went over well. Still, in a new interview with The Guardian, he called it a “traumatizing experience” while absolutely roasting the Oscars as an institution, saying:
“Honestly, one of the most traumatizing experiences of my entire life. [It was] a horrifying Scientology end-of-year prom [representative of] everything I hate about America and popular culture. […] I didn’t want to have anything to do with that world and that culture. I don’t want to be part of any room full of adults hemming and hawing over plastic trophies.”
This take shouldn’t be too surprising to anybody who has listened and paid attention to Stevens’ new album The Ascension, which is packed full of lyrics and themes about his pessimism towards America and culture more broadly.
A quote he shared about his song “Video Game,” for example, may as well be directly about the Oscars and other award shows: “It’s unfortunate that we live in a society where the value of people is quantified by likes, followers, listeners and views. So many people are seeking attention for the wrong reasons. I think we should all be doing our best work without looking for accolades or seeking reward.” On “America,” meanwhile, he sings, “I have loved you, I have grieved / I’m ashamed to admit I no longer believe,” and, “Don’t do to me what you did to America / Don’t do to me what you do to yourself.”
Read the full interview here, and revisit Stevens’ Oscars performance below.