The Academy Awards have always presented a forum for political views by Hollywood’s movie makers and performers, and yet again, we’re presented with another. This time the #OscarsSoWhite outcry, thus sparking debate about whether or not the entertainment industry is secretly harboring racial biases.
But Hollywood is far from conservative, leaning predominantly to the left with its liberal thinking, and ridiculously accusing the Academy of intentionally excluding blacks and other minorities is like saying all of Hollywood is part of the Tea Party.
To me, it’s just another whine by some of the more self-absorbed throwing their public tantrums.
This year’s nominations were not a case of bigotry, but rather a reflection of the best performances.
Ask yourself, what notable performances or films were out there by “people of color” for 2015?
Certainly not Straight Outa Compton. Jada Pinkett-Smith in Magic Mike XXL? Michael B. Jordan in Creed?
Now compare those to Spotlight, The Big Short, The Revenant and The Martian or Bryan Cranston in Trumbo or the cast that was nominated from Steve Jobs.
Could the real reason be that this year there were no black-actor based films that had the Order of Hollywood Nobility that determines the awards buzzing at the nomination table?
Hollywood isn’t racist, it’s Capitalist – Films that make money and gain the attention of the world is what drives film makers.
Granted, MAYBE Will Smith could have received a nomination for his lead performance in Concussion, but compared to the other performers, maybe not. Of course because of that, Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith is now on social media throwing her own hissy fit. (Personally I would have argued more for Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight over Smith’s performance. I enjoy any movie Samuel L Jackson does.)
In the past, I’ve differed with some of the Academy’s selection as I see them selecting more artsy-craftsy films over my typical genre. Snubs frequently happen every year with films I thought were worthy such as Kill the Messenger, End of Watch, American Sniper, or even this year’s 13 Hours, but I’m not going to come out and say I’m not watching the Oscars because the movies that got nominated don’t represent my choices.
Despite any disagreement, I feel the Academy and its voters are quite capable of judging and admiring any film without the actor’s skin color being a factor in relation to the performance.
Last year, Selma, the story of the infamous civil rights journey was nominated for Best Picture and two years ago 12 Years a Slave won best picture. Both are films about black plight through US history and a racist institution would never choose to honor it with their highest award.
On top of that, 12 Years a Slave lead female, Lupita Nyong’o, won the Best Supporting Actress award and Chiwetel Ejiofor was nominated for Best Actor. That same year Barkhad Abdi was nominated for his performance in Captain Phillips. For 2012 films, Denzel Washington, who just happens to have four nominations for Best Actor and two for Best Supporting Actor, was nominated for Flight. The previous year, Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for The Help and Morgan Freeman was nominated for Inviticus.
Apparently it’s OK for director Spike Lee to say he would not attend what he called the “lily-white Oscars,” but all hell would break loose if a white actor or director came out and said they would not attend the BETs with a racist characterization.
With all the #OscarsSoWhite fallout, there appears to be a call for an affirmative-action plan in the movie business. But like anything else; jobs, promotions, admission into college, AND The Academy Awards should continue to be won based on merit and talent.
It’s the Academy Awards, not the Academy of Diversity. The only color that matters for the Oscars is the gold statue.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.