Sunday’s Oscars started and ended with Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power,” the 1990 song originally written for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. The track bookended a ceremony that was otherwise rife with pointed criticism of Hollywood’s problem with diversity, a conversation that came to the foreground this year after the Oscar nominations were announced. (For the second year in a row, every acting nominee was white.)
But some of the members of the hip-hop group weren’t too pleased with the Academy’s choice of music. In a statement to TMZ, Professor Griff said, “The show can’t claim the blackness of Public Enemy’s message.”
Chuck D also made similar comments on Twitter after the broadcast. “The song FightThe Power is beyond me & the crew. The point of the song is a call to making change eventually not just applauding the thought,” he wrote. “Art speaking. Fight The Power. Make change. Demand respect. Do your own awards RIGHT & give indie artists & actors a chance to make a LIVING.”
He also spoke about #OscarsSoWhite and Hollywood’s issue with race. “I dont wanna hear about Oscars being white,” he tweeted. “Oscar been white. We have need black communities to support our ARTS as much as we do sports IMO.”
When asked about the choice to use “Fight the Power” as a walk-on and walk-off song, Oscars music supervisor Byron Phillips told EW, “[We wanted to] really set the tone for what the night was going to be and do something that was representative of Chris, and who Chris was, and the vibe and tone Chris wanted to set for the evening. There was obviously nothing more perfect than ‘Fight the Power’ for that.”
Phillips suggested they wanted to make a splash: “You’ve never had a song like that open the Oscars,” he said. “I think anytime you do something that’s some dramatic break with what you’ve seen historically on the show, I think that people will always be interested in how it happened or certainly talk about it in social [media].”
See Chuck D’s tweets.