The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has rescinded its Oscar nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” for best original song, saying the composer inappropriately promoted it among voting academy members. Performed by quadriplegic author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, the song from the independent Christian film of the same name gained overnight fame when it received the surprise nomination two weeks ago.
Now, the academy’s board of governors believes the fame was undeserved. Bruce Broughton, who composed the music to “Alone Yet Not Alone,” is a former academy governor and a current executive committee member of the academy’s music branch. During the voting period Broughton had emailed other branch members to encourage them to consider the song, something the academy says is “inconsistent” with its policy of conducting its awards competition in a “fair and ethical manner.”
“No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement Wednesday.
No additional nominations will be added to the best song category. The remaining nominated songs include “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 and “Let It Go” from Frozen.
“I’m devastated,” Broughton told reporters in response to the decision. “I indulged in the simplest grassroots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. 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.”
It is very rare but not unprecedented for the academy to withdraw a nomination. It rescinded its pick of the 1972 film score for The Godfather, for example, after learning portions of the music had been used in an earlier movie.
The nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” was controversial from the start since it appeared in a little-known film about the French and Indian War and competed with hit songs from mainstream artists. In an interview with WORLD last week, Eareckson Tada said she was “absolutely amazed” at the nomination herself, but pleased by the song’s popularity.
UPDATE: In reaction to the disqualification of the song, Joni Eareckson Tada, in a statement on her website, said, “The decision by the academy to rescind the nomination may well bring even further attention [to the song], and I only hope it helps to further extend the message and impact of the song. Regarding the reasons for the nomination being rescinded, it is not my place to speculate as I have no insights into the workings of the entertainment industry. I was honored to be invited to sing the song and it will always be a treasured experience.”