The 2021 Academy Awards was a disappointing evening for Chadwick Boseman fans. The much-missed star was the frontrunner to pick up a posthumous Best Actor award for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with the show appearing to be structured around him winning as the big emotional climax. It didn’t work out that way, though, and Anthony Hopkins took home the gold for his performance in The Father.
Many were annoyed, arguing that the Oscars were attempting to exploit his death and comparing it to the famously dreadful final season of Game of Thrones. But there was a rancid little cherry on top of all that. Prior to the ceremony, it was announced that each nominee would receive an invitation to win an NFT (non-fungible token) created by artist Andre Oshea, which turned out to be an animated gif of a tacky-looking gold bust of Boseman surrounded by flowers.
The environmental impact of NFTs already makes them controversial, but Oshea’s artwork was quickly picked apart on social media. Users immediately spotted that he had simply used a 3D print model of the head from CGTrader, raising questions as to exactly how much of this was his work. Reactions were also uniformly negative to the profit split, with it being pointed out that giving just 50% to charity is stingy and wondering whether Boseman’s family had been consulted.
A day later and Oshea seems chastened. He’s taken down the auction for the NFT and referred to the situation as a “huge learning experience.” In a statement, he said:
“I want to address the comments, press, and the misinformation around the unveiling of my tribute NFT artwork of Chadwick Boseman this past weekend. I want you all to know that I’ve listened, heard, and taken it all in as an artist and I apologize for any upset caused.
I was one of several artists asked by Nomine (ETH) to produce an NFT artwork to celebrate the Oscar nominees with a 50/50 split between a charity and the artists. My specific task was to produce an artwork in the memory of late Chadwick Boseman which was NOT included in the gift bags given to the winners but was set to be auctioned off as a single 1/1 NFT.”
— TRUE FASHIONISTA NOW (@tfnow) April 25, 2021
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He claims he understands why people are upset and that he’s redesigning the piece, saying:
“I now recognize that Chadwick’s face is a triggering reminder of his death rather than his life, and I will be redesigning the artwork to be auctioned off later this week. I appreciate all of the love and support from both community and strangers and I’m motivated to push forward with this piece. I will still be donating 50% of the funds to the Colon Cancer Foundation to fund their invaluable work with cancer research and testing.”
Replies indicate that many consider he’s still missing the point, saying that all of the proceeds from this auction should be given to charity. I agree, and this affair reeks of cashing on in Boseman’s legacy. Using a pre-made CGI model as the basis for a crappy-looking NFT is a terrible way to honor Chadwick Boseman‘s memory and the best thing to do now would be to donate the money and forget the whole thing happened.