Opinion Brief

Banksy vs. the Oscars: Should nominees wear disguises?

The Oscar-nominated documentary director and street artist wants to wear a disguise to the awards show to preserve his anonymity — but the Academy is nervous

The Best Documentary category continues to be one of the less predictable Oscar races. There is no clear frontrunner nominee, and if Exit Through the Gift Shop wins, it's unclear who will accept the award. The film's director, Banksy, a street-artist who fiercely guards his anonymity, has asked if he could accept the Oscar in disguise — perhaps wearing a monkey mask that alludes to some of his work. Earlier this month, the Academy reportedly denied this unorthodox request, but Academy President Tom Sherak now says that while "we'd rather [Banksy] not wear a mask," they won't stop him from doing his thing. Should Banksy wear a mask?

Yes, it's essential he maintain his anonymity: "Banksy can't appear without a mask," says Tim Appelo in The Hollywood Reporter. "He has more to lose than Batman by exposing his secret identity." His anonymity is essential to his career as an artist, and even his safety — he's defaced property and people are looking for him. If he shows his face on Oscar night, "his career would die." "Tom Sherak on Banksy crashing Oscars: 'I'm not gonna stand up to stop him'"

And a masked nominee could juice up the show: "A little dose of Banksy is exactly what Hollywood, and the Academy Awards, need," says Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. If award show producers let "Banksy be Banksy," he could very well bring some much-needed excitement and spontaneity to the "notoriously too-staid ceremony.""Banksy vs. the Academy: Why won't the Oscars let Banksy be Banksy?"

But it could get out of control: If Banksy were allowed to accept the award in disguise, it could create maddening chaos, says the Academy's executive director, Bruce Davis, as quoted in Entertainment Weekly. "The fun but disquieting scenario is that, if the film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, 'I'm Banksy,' who the hell do we give it to?""Banksy vs. the Academy: Why won't the Oscars let Banksy be Banksy?"

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