Academy Awards Disqualify Indie Song "Alone Yet Not Alone" for Doing Something All Major Studios Do
According to reports, the song "Alone Yet Not Alone" has been disqualified from the Academy Award's Best Original Song category. The song, which is from the film of the same name and was written by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, wasn't disqualified for plagiarism or anything like that. In fact, it wasn't actually the song that was causing controversy in the Oscar race — instead, it was the campaigning for the Oscar that caused the Academy to take a second look at the nominated tune.
Allegedly, songwriter Bruce Broughton, a former governor and current executive committee member of the music branch of the Academy, e-mailed his peers and asked them to consider "Alone Yet Not Alone" for a nomination. In doing so, Bruce Broughton had — according to the Academy — given his song an unfair advantage. These private messages were considered inappropriate, leading to the song's disqualification from the pool of nominations. No song will replace it. According to the president of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs:
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.
The controversy over "Alone Yet Not Alone" shows how broken the Hollywood system really is. The film Alone Yet Not Alone had a $7 million budget. Compare that to the Disney animated film Frozen, which has "Let It Go" up for the award for Best Original Song — that movie had a roughly $150 million budget to play around with. Movies like Frozen can afford to take out big ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, where voters will begin to recognize them. Indie films like Alone Yet Not Alone, on the other hand, have a struggle finding an audience in the first place. It's not surprising then, that no matter how amazing the movie is, a tiny indie film will probably never win a major award at the Oscars.
Alone Yet Not Alone isn't getting nearly the same amount of attention that films like Gravity or even Her are getting when it comes to Oscar buzz. This could very well be because it's not a very good movie. However, I think that even bad movies with big budgets can grab attention in Hollywood — Alone Yet Not Alone doesn't have the cash to advertise and is too much of niche film to open in theaters nationwide. Like it or not, this hurts its chances of winning an Oscar — even if the Oscar is for Best Original Song and not, say, Best Picture.
I don't think that what Broughton did was right — he should know that his position within the Academy would cause controversy, and, technically, he did break rules — but I understand why he did it. He likely couldn't afford an ad in a trade or a new trailer, so he created his own grassroots campaign by contacting voters independently. It's important to the Academy to think that they are conducting the voting fairly, but, in truth, there isn't anything fair about it.
Like with most things in life, money matters — and Alone Yet Not Alone didn't have any.