Oscars criticised for only having interpreter on stage in Coda speeches


Viewers have branded the Academy ‘performative’ (Picture: Getty)

It was a big night for the Coda cast and crew after the film took home best picture at the Oscars.

However, the Academy has been criticised for only having an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter on stage during Coda’s acceptance speech, and no one else’s. Some viewers assumed the cast brought their own interpreters.

The film tells the story of Coda (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby, who is the only hearing member of a deaf family trying to keep their fishing business afloat.

When their business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her passion for singing and her fear of abandoning her parents. Several deaf actors star in lead roles.

As well as the film taking home the highly-coveted best picture award, Troy Kotsur bagged the trophy for best supporting actor, with Minari’s Yuh-jung Youn using sign language to announce him as the winner before holding his trophy while he signed his acceptance speech.

As the actor did so, the star-studded audience gave him a standing ovation and signed out applause.


CODA cast and crew, oscars acceptance speech

An interpreter joined the cast and crew on stage as they gave their acceptance speech (Picture: AFP)

When the cast took to the stage at the 94th Academy Awards to deliver their acceptance speech for best picture, an interpreter joined them to translate their emotional words into signing, but thousands of viewers have branded it ‘performative.’

One person tweeted: ‘Having an ASL interpreter only for the speeches related to Coda as if deaf people who watch the Oscars will ONLY be interested in those speeches is,’ followed by an emoji showing discomfort.

Many agreed, calling for interpreters to be ‘standard protocol’ at all live events.

Others questioned the Academy’s ‘thought process’ behind the decision, saying they were ‘almost’ there, but missed the mark.

Having an ASL interpreter only for the speeches related to CODA as if deaf people who watch the Oscars will ONLY be interested in those speeches is 🥴

— Jaleesa Lashay Diaz (@JaleesaLashay) March 28, 2022

no ASL interpreter at the Oscars, again. even in a year with two films nominated for Best Picture that prominently feature Deaf characters ??

— drew 🅴 🇵🇸 (@thedrewclanton) March 28, 2022

Why didn’t they have someone prepared to handle this professionally? Did no one think through what was going to need to happen if someone were to speak ASL for their acceptance speech?#Oscars #CODAfilm https://t.co/kXyCnBlNQH

— 💙💛Peter(he/they)🏳️‍⚧️ (@MxTanstaafl) March 28, 2022

CODA wins best picture!

And a reminder that deaf people should be able to have an ASL interpreter throughout the whole show (on the main screen) not just when an award is being presented with a film that has deaf characters! #Oscars

— Gregory Allan Datu Cendana 🏳️‍🌈 (@gregorycendana) March 28, 2022

One frustrated viewer tweeted: ‘This is such a frequent thing. it’s done under a guise of accessibility + inclusivity, when in actuality they are doing far below the bare minimum and expecting to be commended for doing anything at all. we are forced to be grateful cause it’s ‘better than nothing’ and that sucks.’

‘I wish they had an ASL interpreter on screen throughout the #Oscars as they are going on, especially when they have honoured 2 deaf winners. These award shows need to be more accessible,’ said another.

When some Twitter users pointed out that the interpreter was probably for the benefit of the live audience and viewers at home could use subtitles, people were quick to point out that ‘a lot of closed captioning either leaves words and/or sentences out’ or just adds ‘incorrect words’ completely.

One viewer said subtitles can be ‘terrible,’ while another replied: ‘If live captioning falls too far behind, things get skipped in order to catch up. I’ve also seen auto captioning be inaccurate to the point where it used a slur when that was not what the video said.’


Troy Kotsur poses with his Oscar

Troy Kotsur was thrilled with his best supporting actor award (Picture: EPA)

The Academy’s official YouTube channel did offer an ASL interpreter throughout the live feed, but this too was criticised, especially as it went down at one point.

One person tweeted: ‘But it’s a different source you have to know exists, and go out of your way to access, instead of it being literally built in to the existing event. It’s like having a wheelchair entrance around the back of the building through an unmarked door, that has a separate carpark.’

‘Folks keep sharing the separate livestream but my point is that it should also be on the screen & someone shouldn’t have to go to a different link for ASL interpretation,’ another wrote.

‘Also, you don’t have to be deaf to advocate for ASL interpreters & increased access at the #Oscars, other award shows & everywhere. We all have a responsibility to combat ableism,’ he added.

AppleTV+ project Coda beat Netflix’s The Power of the Dog for the big award of the night, with Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli presenting the gong.

Producer Patrick Wachsberger said during his speech: ‘I really want to thank the academy for recognising a movie of love and family at this difficult time that we need today.’



Oscars 2022 winners

Best Picture
CODA

Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Actor in a Leading Role
Will Smith – King Richard

Actress in a Supporting Role
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

Actor in a Supporting Role
Troy Kotsur – Coda

Directing
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Music (Original Song)
No Time To Die from No Time to Die – Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

Documentary Feature
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
CODA – Siân Heder

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Belfast – Sir Kenneth Branagh

Costume Design
Cruella – Jenny Beavan

International Feature Film
Drive My Car (Japan)

Animated Feature Film
Encanto

Visual Effects
Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer

Cinematography
Dune – Greig Fraser

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh

Production Design
Dune – Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos

Film Editing
Dune – Joe Walker

Music (Original Score)
Dune – Hans Zimmer

Live Action Short Film
The Long Goodbye – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed

Animated Short Film
The Windshield Wiper – Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez

Documentary Short Subject
The Queen of Basketball – Ben Proudfoot

Best Sound
Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett



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