Column: Oscars exploited Chadwick Boseman

Destiny Blanchard

On Sunday night the annual Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, was held. This event awarded several actors and actresses who best displayed their talents in films throughout 2020. Many were looking forward to this event because of the nomination of the late actor Chadwick Boseman. In August of 2020 Boseman died of colon cancer at the age of 43, shocking fans everywhere. He was most known for his starring role in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Boseman was nominated for best actor for the character Levy Green in Ma Rainey’s “Black Bottom.”

The Oscars took many opportunities to tribute the late actor. One way they “honored” him was by allegedly gifting some attendees with NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) of a digital golden sculpture of the actor’s head. The artist Andre Oshea was hired to design the sculpture, one of which will be auctioned off while half of the proceeds will go to the Colon Cancer Foundation in Boseman’s honor.

The NFT’s weren’t the only way they included Boseman in the Oscars. While they normally save the award for Best Picture for last, they decided to save the Best Actor category for last, which the actor was nominated for. His family was also invited to this event and many anticipated his winning of the award. Although the best actor award was given to Anthony Hopkins who was not in attendance for his performance in “The Father.” After Anthony Hopkins was announced as the winner, the Oscars ended abruptly.

The Oscars has faced criticism in the past for their choice in nominations and has had a loss in ratings over several years. Their efforts to bring back viewership and appeal to more people may be why they chose to conduct the night in the way they did. However, their use of Chadwick Boseman’s name and likeness throughout the night was exploitative and self-serving. Using an artistic bust of his head and auctioning it off served as a reminder of his death rather than a nod to his legacy. The decision to leave the Best Actor award category last, regardless of if Boseman would win or not, seems like it was done to keep as many people watching in anticipation as possible. Boseman was known as being a private, talented and honorable man. The way the Oscars chose to honor him did nothing to uphold his legacy.