OSCARS SYSTEMICALLY RACIST, INTENTIONALLY OR NOT
By Shelby Watson, Assistant Perspectives Editor
Viewers tuning in to The Academy Awards on Feb. 28 will not be seeing director Spike Lee or actress Jada Pinkett Smith in attendance. The African-American stars have taken to Twitter, stating they are boycotting the Oscars this year following the nomination announcements, citing the lack of color in all of the categories.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite emerged on Twitter following the Oscar nominations going live on Jan. 14.
For the second year in a row, all the actor nominees are white people.
“[H]ow is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders in the acting category are all white?” Lee asked on his Instagram. “As I see it, the Academy Awards is not where the ‘real’ battle is,” Lee said. “It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ‘turnaround’ or [the] scrap heap.”
Lee brings up a heavy topic in Hollywood: institutionalized racism. The all-white categories are not from a lack of African-American actors in film this year, but from a seemingly unfair bias in the Academy.
Movies such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Creed” and “Concussion” among others came out this year, celebrating a revolution of culture that has only been ignored by the Academy.
“For the two black movies that made over $100 million at the box office, touched a nerve and are artistically fresh, only white people were nominated. How does that work?” asked producer and academy member Stephanie Allain about “Compton” and “Creed.”
To date, only 44 African-Americans have been nominated for Oscars and only 32 have won out of the total 2,947 Oscars given out since 1953.
The Academy has failed to capture the image of Hollywood in 2015. Whether it was intended as a political message or not, the lack of black films and actors up for nomination cannot go ignored in the midst of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which is on its way to becoming the most important social movement in recent history.
The Academy suggests that these movements don’t matter and these movies aren’t culturally significant.
These films are a slice of history and depict the way a generation has fought but are being dismissed in favor of book adaptations and remakes.
Lee finished his Instagram post with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it’s right.”
BLACK FILMS SIMPLY NOT QUALITY ENOUGH THIS YEAR
By Courtney Gaither, Features Editor
The latest hashtag, #Oscarssowhite, has been blowing up social media since the Academy released its nominations for 2016. Though this statement is politically correct as far as the nominees go, the question to be asked is, why are the #Oscarssowhite?
On oscars.org’s home page under the Oscars tab, a list of rules and eligibility for each film is presented. The very first rule on the page is, “Academy Awards of Merit shall be given annually to honor outstanding artistic and scientific achievements in theatrically released feature-length motion pictures, and to honor other achievements as provided for in these rules and approved by the Board of Governors.”
Not only does this rule apply for all movies nominated, each Oscar nomination must contain a certain je na sais quoi, for lack of a better term, and as harsh as it sounds, the 2016 qualification period did not produce enough quality movies starring black actors, producers or directors to fit the bill.
Having seen all of the qualifying movies in the Best Picture category and “Straight out of Compton” and “Creed,” I can say neither of them were better than the nominations. Each movie had great plot lines and overall well written scripts, but lacked the artistic aspect that the other qualifying movies had.
The audacity does not lie in the fact that no black actors, producers or directors were nominated for a majority of awards but that white people were nominated for primarily black casted movies.
“Straight out of Compton” placed in the Best Writing (original screenplay) category; however, Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus are all white.
The Oscars are more than just Best Actor/Actress and Best Picture. Original Song and Academy Honorary Award are two categories that have nominated black people: The Weekend, Ahmad Balshe and Jason Daheala and Director Spike Lee, respectively.
There are several other non-white people nominated in different categories as well: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Paco Delgado and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy , for example. These people seem to go overlooked because of all the hate centralized around racial discrimination, yet they worked just as hard as anyone else for a nomination.
The arts are a place for people to express themselves without looking at race.
Cinema is a timeless form of art and each person involved should be proud of the art everyone produces regardless of more white, black or Hispanic people took part in its creation.