Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Prize Snubs

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Prize Snubs

Article excerpt

GRAHAM BENDEL on the elite club too cool to turn up on the night

When Gorillaz, the cartoon band fronted by Damon Albarn, pulled out of this year's Mercury Music Awards, they instantly became accepted by a particularly exclusive club: the Snub Club, let's call it.

They were in good company. In 1960, Tony Benn refused to take a hereditary seat in the House of Lords. John Lennon, protesting at Britain's involvement with Vietnam, returned his MBE to the Queen. And Jean-Paul Sartre, who had already formed an expensive habit of turning down prizes and awards, declined the Nobel Prize in 1964.

Notable members of the Snub Club have included many a film star. George C Scott famously stayed at home and watched a hockey game instead of collecting his Oscar for Patton in 1971. He likened the awards to a "two-hour meat parade". Not to be outdone by Scott, in 1973, Marlon Brando was the next up to "diss" the Academy. In a trademark "sizeable" gesture, Brando sent a Native American girl named Sacheen Littlefeather, dressed in a deerskin, to refuse his award for him -- and to demonstrate his disdain for an industry that dared to portray her people in such a bad light. This was perhaps one of the most eloquent things the actor had ever done (even since taking those large wads of cotton wool from his mouth).

Woody Allen was another offender. When Annie Hall won an Oscar, there was no one to walk up to the podium. Allen was happily jazzing away, playing his clarinet down at Michael's Pub in New York. …

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