Friday, January 22, 2016

Dave-El Does Hollywood II: A Whiter Shade of Oscar

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a  videotape blog adrift in a Blu-Ray internet. I'm Dave-El and please silence your cell phone during the feature presentation. Thank you! 

Last week, I did a post on the Oscar nominations for this year and made some random guesses on who I thought might win. I couldn't help but notice a distinct lack of pigmentation among the nominees or, as I put it last week, "The nominees are whiter than a bag of marshmallows in a snowstorm."

The lack of racial diversity in this year's Oscar nods has continued to be a story of some considerable controversy. Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of Will Smith who was considered an early favorite to score a Best Actor nomination for his work in Concussion, urged African Americans to boycott the Oscars as a sign of protest. Janet Hubert who played Aunt Viv on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Will Smith's acting debut) suggested Jada Pinkett Smith is just pissed because Will didn't get nominated and she should just get over herself.

Hosting this year's Oscars is Chris Rock so we will get to see a black man on the stage unless he responds to calls to boycott the show as well. Knowing how Chris operates, he sees this whole controversy as choice material for some prime comedy. In response to the all-white nominations, Chris Rock has taken to describing his gig as hosting "The White BET Awards".  

Last year saw a similar tempest stirred up over the lack of nominees of color but at least there was some representation. The performance by Common and John Legend of Glory from the film Selma was a major highlight of last year's Oscar telecast.

But this year? Get a load of this. I wondered last week that perhaps Straight Outta Compton (will) ride that wave of (white) guilt to a screen writing Oscar trophy. Yet this almost universally praised box office success could only pull down 1 major nomination and that was for Best Original Screenplay. And you know who wrote that screenplay? The only two white people involved with the whole freakin' picture! 

And get a load of this. Creed, another well liked film that did well at the box office with a black lead actor heading up a predominantly black cast and led by a black director and the only nomination that goes to Creed is for Best Supporting Actor. And that actor? Sylvester Stallone! That's right! The one white guy in the whole damn movie gets an Oscar nomination! 

If I were African American, yeah, that would make me a little paranoid. 

And there's the shut out of Concussion and Beasts of No Nation which were considered contenders for some Oscar attention.  

This dearth of color in the Oscar nominations is attributable less to any overt racism and more to an older pool of Academy voters who may not necessarily personally respond to films like Straight Outta Compton and Creed. Whatever the reason, America is more diverse than what the slate of nominees reflect. Hopefully the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will figure out how to better acknowledge more movies that look like America.

On the plus side of all this, Chris Rock is going to have one hell of a field day with this hot topic at this year's Oscars.

Everyone, be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow.

Well, It's Monday Again.

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