What does "Alone Yet Not Alone" composer Bruce Broughton point to as the reason for why the Academy Awards rescinded his Oscar nomination this week?
"My take on it is that it's a personal attack in order to discredit a nomination that disappointed the people who had spent a lot of money for something else," Broughton told The Christian Post on Friday, who along with lyricist Dennis Spiegel, and vocalist, quadriplegic and disability rights' activist Joni Eareckson Tada, were nominated for "Best Original Song" earlier this month.
"In that way they have been very successful. I have been discredited. My character has been besmirched and sullied," he added.
Broughton, who served two nine-year terms as a Governor in the Academy and is currently a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, learned earlier this week that the Academy had dismissed his song from eligibility because they said that the 70 personal emails he sent had violated its policy.
In the body of an email released by CBS, Broughton asked members of the Academy to "boldly direct your attention to entry #57...This is merely a request for your consideration."
"I'm sending this note only because it is extremely unlikely that this small, independent, faith-based film will be seen by any music branch member; it's the only way I can think of to have anyone be aware of the song," he wrote.
When she broke the news on Wednesday, Academy President Cheryl Isaacs quoted from the organization's policy.
"It is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process."
Responding to allegations that Hollywood's actions were motivated by a larger, culture war angle, Broughton said he would not "discount that there are other issues at work." Although the film was produced by a Christian group and Tada is an evangelical Christian, neither he nor Spiegel identify as such. (Broughton, who was raised in a family that was significantly involved in the Salvation Army said he "wouldn't put a name" on his faith. Spiegel is Jewish.)
Instead, Broughton points to an industry where thousands of dollars are spent on special screenings of the film and lavish parties in the hopes that studios can persuade Academy members to nominate their film. As the composer sees it, most attached with a particular film would not have to resort to sending out personal emails to jockey for votes.
"My campaign, which I guess was the production company's campaign, was limited to writing some emails….just asking them to listen to the song. I didn't ask to vote for the song. I didn't call anyone up, I didn't promote the movie. I didn't do anything. I just pointed out the song on a list of 75 songs on the DVD that the Academy is sending," said Broughton.
Spiegel suggested that once that song had proven popular with a larger, more mainstream audience, it had only further frustrated studios who had felt their songs had been snubbed.
He pointed to surveys on Parade Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter's (THR) website, both which allowed their readers to give their own opinion on which song they had liked best, as examples. According to Spiegel, "Alone Yet Not Alone" had polled at 62 and 81 percent respectively. (Parade has since removed the song from poll options, while THR no longer appears to have the poll listed.)
"I think the magazine that caused a lot of people, a lot of power brokers in Hollywood consternation was the Hollywood Reporter poll because that's a magazine that is really read by industry insiders and people in the entertainment industry," Spiegel told CP.
"That's something a lot of people couldn't wrap their heads around because we're a small song and we would be sitting in the audience there with high powered internationally famous groups, some major studio backed numbers, highly promoted songs, and here we were. This [poll] is evidence, this is hard data, this not just somebody spouting their opinion that this song never had a chance, this is hard data that sort of pointed in a different direction," he added.
When asked if during his several decades in the Academy if he had ever received emails from others in leadership positions jockeying for their film, Broughton was tentative in giving his response.
"It's a hard question to answer. Probably yes and no. If I went through and made a list, yes, I could probably find people who were members of the board of Governors or were members of their home branches' executive board who had letters taken out on their behalf in their nominations. Right now, I can't tell you who that would be but I'm sure that that has happened. But specifically, I don't know of anyone who did what I did. I don't know anyone that needed to. I know that I needed to," he said, again referring to the well-funded marketing teams at the disposal of major studios.
Although both the men acknowledged that it was a "very big disappointment" that the Oscar nomination had been rescinded, Spiegel said he found solace knowing that because of the initial publicity, the song had been an inspiration to others.
"There was a comment posted underneath the video…from some woman who said, 'Look, I'm Buddhist. I'm not Christian but this is a lovely song and I can relate to it. Joni Eareckson Tada has been an inspiration to me and she's why I'm still here'," said Spiegal. "To me, that was a reaction that was gratifying."
Broughton said he had found himself relating to the song itself over the course of the week.
"As a person of faith I can tell you that in the last couple of days I've felt very alone. But not entirely alone. Not entirely alone. For lots of different reasons. But I would this song really applies to us. We're alone yet not alone," said Broughton.