Queen guitarist Brian May has strongly criticised the BRIT Awards for removing gendered categories.
The move was confirmed this week as part of a more general shake up of the ceremony, and finds gendered categories becoming a thing of the past.
Replaced with genre-led shortlists, the move aims to include artists who don't conform to binary gender categories, as well as removing gender as a pigeonhole for artists more generally.
Speaking of the changes, BRIT Chair Tom March commented: “It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible. It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender.”
“I’m really excited to launch four new genre awards, which create even more opportunities for artists to be acknowledged for the brilliant music they create and produce, and give music fans the chance to get involved and vote to support their artists and help them to win a BRIT.”
Brian May, however, isn't a fan. Chatting to the Mirror at ITV’s Palooza event in London this week, the Queen guitarist blasted the decision saying it is "frightening".
He commented: “It’s a decision that has been made without enough thought. A lot of things work quite well and can be left alone.”
“I get so sick of people trying to change things without thinking of the long-term consequences,” he added. “Some of these things are an improvement, some of them are not.”
Broadening the discussion, Brian May stated he believes there is an “atmosphere of fear everywhere because people are afraid to say how they really think,” adding: “I think so many people are feeling, ‘Hang on, this isn’t quite right’. But they don’t dare say anything. Eventually there will be some kind of explosion.”
Referencing iconic frontman Freddie Mercury, the guitarist stated he believes the singer would have found the culture he speaks of “difficult”.
“For instance, Freddie came from Zanzibar, he wasn’t British, he wasn’t white as such – nobody cares, nobody ever, ever discussed it,” May said. “He was a musician, he was our friend, he was our brother. We didn’t have to stop and think: ‘Ooh, now, should we work with him? Is he the right colour? Is he the right sexual proclivity?’ None of that happened, and now I find it frightening that you have to be so calculating about everything.”
Queen picked up four BRIT Awards, with the guitarist stating he believes they wouldn't have done so in the current climate. He said: “We would be forced to have people of different colours and different sexes and we would have to have a trans [person]. You know life doesn’t have to be like that. We can be separate and different.”
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