Thursday, January 21, 2016

Boycotting the Oscars this year

There has been a big flap about the Oscars being to "lily-white" - a term coined by Spike Lee.

Apparently there is not one non-white nominee in the Academy Awards this year.  This has sparked many non-white actors, actresses and directors to boycott the Academy Awards.  Will Smith and his wife Jada have joined a chorus of actors calling for others to not attend the ceremony. 
 "This is so deeply not about me," Smith said, "This is about children who are going to sit down to watch this show and they are not going to see themselves represented." (see full article here)
My first thought is, 'kids?'  What kids watch the Academy Awards?  Yes, I am sure some do whose parents are in the business or have great interest in movies, but very few kid wind up watching the Oscars.  It's too late and too boring.

Anyway, this is less about the children and more about the grownups. 

I started to ask some questions - Who nominates the actors and actresses?  Because the way Spike Lee talks about it you would think that ten old white men in tuxedos sit in a mahogany-and-brass room somewhere and determine the nominees.  

Not true.

The process is surprisingly egalitarian.  Over 6000 ballots are sent out from an accounting firm to the fellow actors, actresses, directors and producers in Hollywood.  You get a ballot if you have been a part of three films in the last five years, have been nominated by the board or have been nominated for an oscar (see the full rules here).  That means all the stars that we would know by name are part of the academy.  So it would seem that the real culprits behind the lily-white Oscars this year are the actors and actresses of Hollywood.  

You know, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence - those are the people who voted for these nominees (along with Spike Lee and Will Smith).  Yup - alot of them are white, but if they practiced what they preached there would be a lot more color in that group. 

What gets me is that white actors and actresses are starting to lecture us on racism.  Dustin Hoffman is calling it subliminal racism but he was one of the voting members.

So yes, I would agree that there is a massive oversight of talent from all over the skin-pigment-spectrum  not just black but in every non-white category (if we have to take note of that).  

It seems weird to me that the same actors and actresses that are starting pontificate about racism in America are the same ones who came up with the 'lily-white' list to begin with.  So I am thinking we need less sermonizing about skin color from actors and actresses and maybe more mea culpas.   Less finger pointing and more, "hey, I probably should have thought about all my non-white buddies who are actors and actresses when I voted for this thing." 

So don't think about some croney system of old white men and think of Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

Because really, I didn't get a ballot, chances are you didn't either.

My guess is that we may have had a different result if we did.

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