The Academy (the voters behind the Oscars) released big news today; after nominating the song ‘Alone Yet Not Alone,’ from the little known faith based film Alone Yet Not Alone, they have decided to disqualify it. Since its nomination, this song has been vocally chastised because of the songwriter, Bruce Broughton; he was a former governor and current music branch executive for the Academy.
Though the film and song garnered zero acclaim and zero award buzz, it still beat out high profiled songs like “Atlas” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire or “Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis. In fact, if one were to search for reviews from high-profiled critics, he or she would be hard-pressed to find any. The film has zero reviews on Metacritic and RottenTomatoes and a user score of 3.3 on IMDB. In no way, should the general public utilize user reviews, but in this case, it is all we have.
So without any information on this film I thought it was important to watch the trailer; the emotions of utter confusion and anger have never been more felt while watching a trailer. It was laughably bad (think The Room’s line delivery), but at the same time, extremely racist against Native Americans. Furthermore, I was extremely confused by the muddled plot: did God keep the sisters together? Why did one sister go from blonde hair and pale skin to dark hair and ridiculously racist dark skin? Let me clarify, they have a very pale skinned actress, Kelly Greyson, playing a Native American in essentially ‘blackface.’ Now I say again, I cannot properly review the film because I did not see the film; however, I might trust the IMDB scores and avoid the film altogether.
So how was this little known and apparently maligned film nominated?
Bruce Broughton allegedly “emailed [some of the other 239] members of the branch to make them aware of his submission.” However, Broughton denies what he did was wrong: “I indulged in the simplest grassroots campaign…I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them. I simply asked people to find the song and consider it.”
But the Academy disagreed and released a statement explaining their position:
“The board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that ‘it is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the board of governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the board of governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”
So basically the Academy has a set of ethics, and if they believe the set of ethics was impaired in anyway, they have the right to disqualify you. Even if there is not an exact rule broken, they still have the right to disqualify under this statute. So from what I understand, Broughton did not break an exact rule, but was disqualified for his unethical action of using his position to dictate votes.
Now, if one were to take a step back and ignore the politics of the Academy, it would become apparent that the story behind the song was actually quite uplifting. Joni Eareckson Tada is a practicing minister who happens to be a quadriplegic: the result of a diving accident as a teenager. Her disability left Joni with limited lung capacity; so in order to hit the higher notes, her husband had to continuously push on her diaphragm.
This is obviously a touching story, which shows the power of human will. However, this does not mean the song should be nominated; her injury does not retract from the fact that the song sounds like it should be in a ‘Hallmark movie’ or ‘Lifetime show.’ This is of course the fault of the lyricist, but still, the song is below average at best.
So by using his contacts and leverage, Mr. Broughton has not only broke the ethics of the Academy, but he also made the ‘Best Original Song’ category a joke; something that category did not need help with. The ‘Best Original Song,’ category has been vocally criticized before; most of the songs nominated year to year do not affect the film they were nominated with. For instance, last year’s winner “Skyfall,” only appears over the opening credits and does not change how one views the film.
With this said, the undermining of the categories has been an Academy-staple for years; if the Academy is willing to nominate sub-par movies for categories, then they are forever making that category a joke. I understand that politics play more of role then just saying ‘A’ is a crap movie, therefore, it should not be nominated. But films like The Lone Ranger should never be nominated for an Oscar. Even if the nomination was only for ‘Visual Effects,’ it still will forever undermine the value of the other nominations. So, instead of meeting the quota of nominations, nominate one less in order to keep the integrity of the other films.
Again, I can only base this opinion off the song and not the film. Even though the trailer looked terrible and extremely racist, I cannot ethically say the film was good or bad without seeing it. But on the basis of the song, the nomination of “Alone but not Alone,” is a slight to all the other songs nominated. What Mr. Broughton did was ethically wrong, but at the same time, he highlighted the problem with the Academy’s voting process.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter