Exclusive–'Alone Yet Not Alone' Singer Joni Eareckson Tada on Oscar Controversy: 'Hollywood Is Shunning Christ'
Christian activist Joni Eareckson Tada accuses Hollywood of "shunning Christ" after the Academy Award rescinded a Best Original Song Oscar nomination to the independent Christian film Alone Yet Not Alone.
Tada – a severely disabled evangelical author, radio host, and public speaker – was chosen to sing a song of the same name as the central theme to the movie, and she believes its rejection by the Academy board reveals the entertainment world's anti-Christian culture.
"I don’t think we should be surprised that Hollywood is shunning Christ," she told Breitbart News. "Jesus was shunned by much weightier adversaries than those in the field of entertainment."
Tada spoke to Breitbart News yesterday, describing the story behind the film:
The movie is a true story about two sisters taken by a tribe of Indians during the French and Indian war in 1775. During the eight years of their captivity it is their faith and that song, a hymn taught to them by their mother, that sees them through. When they were reunited with their mother, the girls were unrecognizable. The girls were in a huddled group of youngsters also taken by the Indians, and the mother did not recognize them, so she sang the hymn – and it was that way they were reunited with their mother.
Tada was 18 when she was paralyzed from the neck down after a freak diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay. She went on to a career telling her story and inspiring others through her books and personal appearances. It was at one of her personal appearances that she was asked to sing the song.
“I was speaking at a convention, giving the closing message and in the audience were friends of the filmmakers. I quote hymns throughout my message and they approached me [and] asked if I would like to sing the song for the movie,” Tada told Breitbart News.
The song, written by the team of Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, shocked the world when it was nominated for an Academy Award, going up against songs from blockbusters like Frozen, Despicable Me, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. After all, Alone Yet Not Alone was only in eleven theaters for a few weeks last year and grossed only $133,000.
Tada said, “I was stunned when it happened. A friend called from back east and I thought it was a joke, then I saw it on Facebook and Twitter and email, and it was clear we had been nominated.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the song encountered immediate opposition, including from rival song promoters who hired a private investigator who called Alone Yet Not Alone producers pretending to be a “researcher.” He asked how the film was advertised during the film’s eleven-day, single-theater release in November. The movie was given a limited release in order to qualify for this year’s Oscars.
“They actually hired private investigators to determine whether the movie had met the criteria for being nominated," said Tada – "how much was spent on advertising, how long it was in release, how much it made when it was released. It looks like a lot of people were offended this song was up against such box office hits.”
The Academy rejected this approach and then were informed that Broughton, former Academy governor and at one time on the Executive Committee of its song branch, had sent emails to some voting members asking them to listen to the song.
This, they decided, was undue influence.
After only thirteen days as a nominee, the song was formally rejected by the Academy, claiming it was protecting the “integrity” of the voting process.
Tada claims foul:
I can’t say the reason the nomination was rescinded, but it has to be more than a few emails. But if they pulled the Oscar from all the movie people who campaigned for an Oscar, they would probably all have to give them back. And the fact that he used to head the music branch and was on the board of the Academy must mean he knew he was not breaking any rules.
Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List, was even more blistering. In a letter sent to the Academy and made public, Molen wrote, "Every film, director, writer, cinematographer, actor, art director, costume designer and efx house finds a way to pitch or promote their work. Many will see this decision as faith-based bigotry pure and simple.”
Tada will meet the filmmakers and the songwriters for the first time this Friday night at the Movie Guide awards in Los Angeles.