There has been a noticeable pall over the 2021 awards season from the very beginning. For many, it has felt odd — at best — to hold extravagant galas for movies, and the celebrities who tend to make them, as a global pandemic ravaged the world. Then, there is the matter of a tragedy at the heart of one of this year’s biggest categories: Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August 2020 to the shock of fans everywhere, is the frontrunner in the Oscars’ Best Actor race for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. .
Going into Sunday night’s Academy Awards, viewers and attendees alike probably expected to see a Boseman tribute — or another emotional acceptance speech from Boseman’s wife Taylor Simone Ledward Boseman — over the course of the night. While those two occurrences are still likely, a very different, far less expected homage to the late Chadwick Boseman has emerged: an Oscar nominee swag bag NFT in Boseman’s image. Social media denizens find the decision to literally tokenize Boseman’s likeness and death exploitative.
Each Oscar nominee will find an NFT — or non-fungible token — in their gift bag, which comes from management and acquisitions organizations AdVenture Media and Taillard Capital. The artwork for each NFT will be auctioned off, and the proceeds from the auction will go to the charity of the Oscar nominee’s choosing. One of the NFT options, designed by artist Andre Oshea, is a golden bust of Boseman. Half of the proceeds of the Boseman NFT will go to the Colon Cancer Foundation (it is unclear where the other 50% of the money will go). Oshea tweeted on April 24 that the “buy now” price for the Boseman-based NFT was $1.2 million. Other items in the gift bag along with the late actor’s image include a jokey non-cookbook from Postmates, a vape cartridge, and a year-long membership to a fitness app.
“Can't wait to be lectured about social issues again by the people who literally tokenized Chadwick Boseman,” wrote one Twitter user. Another said, “Imagine getting a digital link to a gif of ur late best friend or co-worker’s golden head like that’s so weird right? Like that’s really wrong? No one’s death should be treated as a gift bag item?”
“‘Chadwick Boseman gets NFT tribute in Oscars nominee bags; half of proceeds go to charity,’ This is so twisted and tacky," wrote another Twitter user. "He better be getting more than a GIFT BAG ‘tribute,’ what the actual fuck.”
Boseman’s wife, Ledward Boseman, has yet to publicly comment on the NFT image of her late husband.
This story has been updated. Refinery29 has also reached out to the team behind the Oscars swag bag for comment.