#Opinion

Are Oscars Ableist? Academy Awards Cuts Away from Hearing-Impaired Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin: As the showrunners during Oscars cut away the segment including hearing-impaired presenter Marlee Matlin, this struck spark all over the internet.

Hollywood as well as Bollywood has been criticised for their non-inclusivity of people. Hollywood films or award shows are often being called out for being dominated by an all-white cast member ignoring people from other races or ethnicities, or including a person with a non-normative sexual orientation or being inclusive of people with disability.

With the progressing times, it can be witnessed that many Hollywood movies and shows have been inclusive and trying to break the all-white cast trope. Award shows like Oscars and Grammy’s also have nominations from various backgrounds but time again certain incidents have made the audience question whether the whole idea is just an act of tokenism, whether it engages in any serious notion of inclusivity?

One such incident was again beheld at the Oscars 93rd Academy Awards when the hearing impaired actor Marlee Matlin was cut between her speech which led to widespread criticism over Twitter.

The act of ableism at Oscars

Marlee Matlin is the only hearing-impaired actor who won the Academy Award for the 1986 film Children of the Lesser God and signed her speech with an interpreter on stage. Matlin also won an Oscar for the Best Actress at the age of 21, the youngest to win in the category.  This year Matlin was a presenter at the awards and was ruthlessly cut between her speech which raged many Twitter users and stated Oscars to be ‘rude’.

Marlee Matlin’s presence at the Oscars this year was particularly special because one of the films on the slate of nominees was Sound Of Metal, the story of a drummer losing his hearing. The two stars of the film, Riz Ahmed and Paul Raci, were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

How did users on Twitter react

Twitter users didn’t take this whole incident well, and a flood of comments could be seen as users expressed their rage. One user wrote “Wow Oscars! So rude to cut away from Marlee Matlin like that. Whose brilliant idea was that?”

While another user commented “OMG Oscar’s way to marginalize deaf folks even more by cutting Marlee out of the screen while signing. You could’ve shown in the corner of the screen.”

Addressing the Academy, this fan of the actress wrote: “You should have split screened or done box in box when Marlee Matlin was signing about the people nominated. Needs work.”

Further, the poignancy of the incident was made clear with loud and bold statements like, “Uh, why does Marlee Matlin have a (male) voiceover?! She can speak. Oscars.”

“Marlee Matlin has the rare opportunity to sign while presenting a couple of categories at the Oscars, and they cut immediately to the nominees with no split or reduced screen, cutting out her signing for the most of her presentation,” read a tweet from another angry user.

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