January 29, 2018


Pink's 2018 GRAMMY Performance Was Almost a Huge Moment for ASL Inclusion

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS

Everyone remembers Pink's breathtaking 2010 GRAMMY performance when she hung from the ceiling and sang a live acrobatic rendition of "Glitter in the Sky" that stands as arguably one of the most impressive performances in the award show's history. For 2017, the singer seemed set on making another statement with "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken."

Dressed in a loose T-shirt and jeans, it was clear that Pink was making this performance more about substance than flash. The song's timely, empowering lyrics—lines like "This is a battle I must win / To want my share is not a sin" undoubtedly a direct line of support to the current #TimesUp movement—were also being delivered by an American Sign Language interpreter, the only artist to do this during the 2018 GRAMMYs. This was a major moment in having those in the deaf and hard of hearing community be a part of understanding each important line from the song just like those more able. Yet, this potentially huge moment of inclusivity was unfortunately ruptured due to the stage set up and filming of the performance. 

Upon her opening lines, Pink was seen with her ASL interpreter on the side of her stage. Viewers could see the interpreter's initial words, but the camera mostly focused on just Pink, who was not performing ASL. Altogether, there were only a few moments where the ASL interpret was shown on camera—including a powerful moment where she and Pink looked at one another—but most of the time she was unable to be seen.

While it would not have been a poor decision to keep the camera focused on Pink during any other performance of her career, having someone deliver her important lyrics through sign language seemed like an integral part of the performance to include. By not prominently featuring the interpreter throughout, one must wonder why she was included at all if she wasn't meant to be a central focus of the show? Also, what the point of having the performance be ASL inclusive if the camera ultimately nullified any attempts to include those who would be reading sign language?

The camera issues could have been avoided if the stage was set up a bit differently too. Instead of being far on stage left, the ASL interpreter could have stood next to Pink or even slightly behind her to make sure all the words were seen. 

People online had similar concerns:

Pink undoubtedly delivered another stunning GRAMMY performance this year, but the larger message she seemed to have been going for rang a bit softer due to some poor camera work and stage planning.