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Two Original Song Performances Cut From Oscars Broadcast

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In a Variety exclusive late on Friday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced that they had dumped two of the five scheduled performances of the Best Original Song nominees from this Sunday’s upcoming telecast. Ordinarily, the news that the notoriously lengthy Oscar ceremony would be shortened in any way at all would be cause for celebration, but the particulars of this decision should give readers pause. It’s true that the song performances can be the most time-consuming parts of the show, and though they’re definitely the least necessary, it’s some real bull-tonky that the show would appear only to cut the performances without adequate star-power behind them.

The two performers who will not enjoy the spotlight of the Academy stage are South Korean soprano Sumi Jo, the voice behind Youth’s “Simple Song #3,” and Antony “ANOHNI” Johnson, the unspeakably beautiful singer providing the vocals to Racing Extinction’s “Manta Ray.” Though Sumi Jo has a Grammy to her name and Hegarty’s singing could bring a dragon to tears — not to mention that Hegarty marks the second time that an openly transgender artist has received an Oscar nomination, following composer Angela Morley’s Best Score nominations in ‘74 and ‘76 — the Academy deemed them not as deserving of performance time as the other nominees. Which just so happen to be top-selling artists Lady Gaga (performing her The Hunting Ground cut “Til It Happens To You”), Sam Smith (doing his Spectre theme), and the Weeknd (crooning the 50 Shades of Grey mood-setter “Earned It”).

As if this wasn’t aggravating enough, the telecast that apparently doesn’t have time for Hegarty or Sumi Jo does have adequate space for a “special” performance from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. The discriminatory undercurrent is crystal clear here: Reserving space in the crowded Oscar telecast depends not on talent, not on merit, not even on entertainment value, but on a star’s potential to draw an audience. Hey, if we’re just messing with the Best Original Song category for bogus reasons, why not call up Wiz Khalifa and retroactively give him the nomination for his Furious 7 song?

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