There is a lot of discussion about who deserved to win an Oscar at Sunday’s Academy Awards. Frankly, I believe that Mad Max: Fury Road should’ve gotten every single Oscar, including for Best Actor and every other category it wasn’t nominated in, because that movie is glorious and also because this is what their costume designer wore to a black tie event.
All jokes aside, I am actually upset by the winner of Best Original Song. The nominations were: “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, “Simple Song #3” from Youth, “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, and “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre. “Writing’s On The Wall” for the newest version of James Bond movie Spectre was the ultimate winner. The song was performed by Sam Smith, and although he is talented, the choice was a real letdown.
“Writing’s On The Wall” is another song to add to James Bond’s new and improved image. Bond is no longer the suave gentleman superspy who drinks martinis and woos beautiful women – he’s the incredibly sad suave gentleman superspy who drinks martinis and woos beautiful women. As much as the song captures the melancholy of Daniel Craig’s 007, it doesn’t seem that different from Skyfall’s titular song by Adele. It has the same sweeping music and the same joyless tone, but at least “Skyfall” had the benefit of being sung by Adele.
“Til It Happens To You” written by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren should’ve won. The song is about the struggles of sexual assault victims, which appears in Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground, a documentary about the pervasive culture of sexual assault in college campuses. The music video for “Til It Happens To You” has been viewed over 26 million times. The video shows several graphic and heart-wrenching depictions of sexual assault on campus. The end of the video gives a sense of solidarity and hope by giving the number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE).
Lady Gaga’s performance of the song drives home the fact that she was robbed. She was introduced by the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, who spoke against the issue of campus rape. Biden has supported “Til It Happens To You” and The Hunting Ground through the campaign It’s On Us, which aims to take the blame away from the victim of sexual assault and promote the necessity of consent. Then Lady Gaga proceeded to play the piano and sing her heart out, filling each note with intense emotion. Half-way through the song, fifty young men and women joined her on the stage, with messages like “Not Your Fault” and “Survivor” written on their forearms.
All of the people who stood beside her and joined hands are sexual assault survivors. Even Lady Gaga and co-writer Diane Warren are survivors of sexual assault, as Lady Gaga stated in an interview with ABC: “I am myself a survivor; Diane Warren is herself a survivor of sexual violence. We’re here tonight very grateful to the Academy for giving us this stage to reward survivors for being brave and coming forward.”
The performance is also important because of the recent coverage on musician Kesha’s ongoing trial to get out of her contract with producer Dr. Luke, who she accused of sexual and emotional abuse. Lady Gaga, who is friends with Kesha, has been an outspoken supporter of the #FreeKesha movement. She also dedicated her performance of “Til It Happens To You” to Kesha, publicly stating it on Twitter.
.@kesharose I'll be thinking of u 2nite. This is not over we'll stand by u until you are free to live a HAPPY life. Everyone deserves that.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 28, 2016
— kesha (@KeshaRose) February 29, 2016
Lady Gaga continued her incredible messages through her social media, thanking all of the survivors who stood next to her on stage and briefly discussing the impact of her own sexual abuse.
“Til It Happens To You” is important. It is powerful. It is, unfortunately, very relevant and it will be relevant for years if we don’t strive to make great changes in our current society. Yes, James Bond deserves attention because of its long (over fifty years) cultural presence, but arguably sexual assault and victim-blaming have been around for much longer. You could even say that “Writing’s On The Wall” winning is evident of a larger problem. The Academy Awards would rather reward a franchise that has contributed to rape culture, than reward a movement that attempts to break it down.