Juno Awards host Simu Liu ended the two-hour broadcast from Edmonton’s Rogers Place on March 13 with these immortal lines: “Sorry for the boobs.” Not something one would expect to hear at a Canadian music awards show and the “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star didn’t need to apologize; they weren’t his boobs.
Near the start of the show, a topless environmentalist avoided security and managed to get on stage as Avril Lavigne was introducing rapper AP Dhillon, the first Punjabi act to perform on the Junos.
“I’m introducing an artist who’s blown up on the global music scene with the new wave of R&B, hip hop and pop records, fused…” she said, as the woman suddenly appeared onstage wearing only pink pants with matching durag and scribbled slogans on her back and arms.
The TV broadcast did not show a close-up of the interloper but those in attendance said she wore pasties and had the words “save the green belt” and “land back” written on her, which is strangely a reference to an issue in Ontario, not Alberta, where the Junos took place. The Greenbelt is a protected piece of land that the province wants to develop for housing.
Lavigne stuck to the script, continuing to talk about the Victoria, BC-based Dhillon, but when the protestor circled Lavigne with her arms extended in the devil salute, looking out at the audience Lavigne turned around and looked right at her. “Get the fuck off. Get the fuck off bitch,” she said, and by then security was onstage to escort her off. Lavigne, a pro, then got on with introducing Dhillon.
Later, when she won the fan choice award for the fourth time — her 10th Juno trophy in her 20 years attending the Junos — the first thing she said was: “Now, nobody try anything this time or the Canadian is going to come out of me and I’ll fuck a bitch.”
After the broadcast, when asked what stands out to her from past Juno Awards or tonight’s, she laughed and not surprisingly told the media room, “probably tonight. That’s definitely going down as one of my highlights.”
When Liu was asked by a reporter if he planned the backflip he did on the show, he quipped, “Planned the backflip; I did not plan the boobs. If you were to have told me, before I started hosting the show, that there would be somebody taking their shirt off at the Junos and it wouldn’t be me, I would be shocked.”
“And it was just the most Canadian way ever that she was so gently escorted off stage. It was literally like, ‘Ma’am [uses hands to demonstrate] which I think was a little bit more than she deserved.”
As much attention as the topless protestor is getting and the humor attached to it, there has to be some accountability by the Junos and CBC that someone so easily accessed the stage putting Lavigne’s safety in jeopardy.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) swiftly released a statement but it did not address the safety issue.
“We take every step to avoid interruptions to our program, but there are always risks with live events and broadcasts,” it read. “We hope tonight’s brief disruption doesn’t take away from the accomplishments of this year’s performers, winners and nominees.”
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