The man behind the Grammys sparks huge backlash over his comments on women

The man behind the Grammys sparks huge backlash over his comments on women

Although the gender equality debate has taken centre stage of late, it appears that the entertainment industry still fails to recognise female artists. Certainly, the 2018 Grammy awards which took place over the weekend still reads as tone-deaf and out of touch with regards to its treatment of female musicians, who this year, like many others, were placed on the back-burner.

This was largely due to the fact that Lorde was not invited to perform a solo set despite her nomination for the Best Album award. Three other nominees did perform, and they were Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Childish Gambino. While Jay Z, the fifth nominee did not take to the stage, he too was offered a solo spot. Lorde, however, was only invited to perform as part of a tribute to Tom Petty. She denied the offer.

Before the awards ceremony, Lorde's mother, the poet Sonja Yelich took to Twitter to post a photo from a New York Times editorial. "This says it all," she captioned the tweet which informs us that only nine per cent of Grammy award nominees in the past six years have been women. Yelich's tweet is a thinly veiled attack on the academy's failure to showcase Lorde's work by granting her a solo performance, a privilege which was granted to every other male nominee.

Indignant viewers took to social media to vent their frustration at this year's Grammy awards. "Lorde is pissed as she should be. She was the only woman in the album of the year category. She was the only nominee that wasn’t offered a performance tonight. She was snubbed & it’s just really unfair. It’s hard because society doesn’t appreciate deep lyrics," one Twitter user wrote.

Another added, "So...you mean to tell me…that the most critically acclaimed female artist of the year aka the only female and pop artist nominee of 2018 Grammys aka LORDE won't be performing at the Grammys? well there's no reason for me to watch it then."

However, Lorde's snub was not the only point of contention. People were also irritated that Ed Sheeran beat out Lady Gaga, Kesha, Pink and Kelly Clarkson for the pop vocal award. Sheeran won for Shape of You, a generic song about sex, while Kesha's single, Praying, bravely addressed how she was able to overcome sexual assault and forgive her abuser.

Now, in response to all the negative press, Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, has released a statement. “Every year is different, we can’t have a performance from every nominee — we have over 80 categories," he wrote. "So we have to realize that we’ve got to create something that has balance, and so on and so forth. And what you saw was our best judgment of how to do that.”

He continued:

"I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level to step up. Because I think they would be welcome, I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face, but I think it’s really a combination — it’s us as an industry making the welcome mat very obvious, creating mentorships, creating opportunities not only for women but for all people who want to be creative and really paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything and say anything."

Portnow clearly placed the majority of the responsibility on women, and people were, of course, incensed. One Twitter user asserted: "If you are complaining about the #GrammysSoMale hashtag, you really don’t get it. It’s not that men’s music wasn’t good enough to be awarded, it’s that women are making great music as well yet only 9% of the nominees in the last 5 years have been women", while another corroborated: "Women need to step up? I'll make the obvious comment: maybe Neil Portnow needs to step down".

Well, it seems like the #GrammysSoMale hashtag is incredibly fitting.