The Nigerian singer was nominated for Best Original Song for her work co-writing Rihanna’s ballad Lift Me Up from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. However, viewers seemed far more fixated on her extravagant dress, featuring a back piece that formed a large halo around her head.
Throughout the Academy Awards broadcast, host Jimmy Kimmel could often be seen walking up and down the aisles among the audience, and Tems’ statement couture ensured she stood out from the crowd.
Viewers were quick to hit out at the singer for her attire, branding it “rude”, “inappropriate” and “awful”.
As clips from the evening emerged showing those seated next to and behind the singer desperately trying to peep around the mesh headpiece enshrined around her, the singer’s outfit quickly became a meme and went viral.
Late on Monday evening, Tems spoke up for the first time since the awards show, taking to Twitter with a collection of snaps showing off her “view-blocking dress”.
In a subtle response to the critics, the Nigerian singer simply captioned the post: “Oops” with a blushing emoji.
Fans raved over the cheeky comeback, UgandanGods declaring, “Tems is a vibe, the biggest export Africa right now has”, while countless others in the comments branded her “iconic”.
However, not every fan was as supportive, as DanielRegha wrote: “Tems it’s insensitive of u to use ‘Oops’ as a caption knowing full well the outrage ur outfit caused.
“The dress looks great but was inappropriate & inconvenienced many people.
“Tender a public apology to Oscar attendees, it’s the least u can do. Wise up. Humility goes a long way.”
Similarly, Twitter caught aflame in debate on Sunday evening while Tems and Rihanna patiently waited to see if they would be going home with an Oscar.
SupremeOne declared the Lever Couture gown “inappropriate style wear for seating”, adding: “There are those who worked probably just as hard as her to get to the Oscars and can’t enjoy the show because they CAN’T SEE BECAUSE OF HER HEAD DRESS BLOCKING THE VIEW.”
Karanfeder added: “Going forward, the Academy will likely need to develop a policy that fairly addresses such situations.
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“The incident reflects poorly on both the designer and the celebrity.”
Writer Jarrett Bellini also added to the discourse, mocking the songwriter: “Imagine waiting your whole life to be at the Oscars and you end up sitting behind a stratus cloud.”
However, others argued that the view-blocking was intentional on Tems’ side, as BeeBabs explained: “Actually it is an ironic symbol, she is taking up space as a Black woman, whilst the white not only represents a femininity BW have traditionally not had access to but also how whiteness has obscured and obstructed paths of progress.”
A few also pointed out some potential double standards, as Drakid7 added: “Everyone is going gaga cus of Tems’ dress at the Oscars but no one is talking about the condition Lady Gaga puts the people behind her as well.”
They added a snap of the Bad Romance singer, known for her own extravagant attire, wearing a large geometric headpiece towering above her.
Both singers were in the running on Sunday for the Best Original Song Oscar with Lady Gaga’s Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick a strong contender.
However, Academy Awards history was made as Naatu Naatu from the Bollywood hit RRR won the award, making it the first Indian film song to win an Oscar.
The song has been a firm awards-favourite thus far, having already made Golden Globes history under the same circumstances and earning a Critics’ Choice Award in January.
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