Disclaimer: I wrote this Monday morning so as you read, pretend it is Monday afternoon or whenever you usually have a few moments in your hectic day to read the brain droppings of someone who isn’t the most linear thinker, but earnestly tries to make the most of that. Enjoy and feel free to respond.
I didn’t see last night’s Oscar Awards, but from what I gather, it was the ceremonial version of a Freudian Slip.
Besides, there is one thing I cant really understand about the Oscars. How can a night that celebrates the year’s many cinematic achievements, including edge of your seat action thrillers, be so tedious? Actually maybe the entertainment value is 7 stars out of 10, and if they showed the award night bloopers, even an 8. But given my limited time, it makes no sense to watch a drawn out, maudlin and seemingly scripted awards ceremony instead of one of the nominated films themselves. Its like choosing to watch the NFL Draft instead of the Super Bowl.
But back to last night. Apparently Jimmy Kimmel channeled Steve Harvey and so Warren Beatty was handed the wrong scorecard. I wish this had happened with November’s Presidential Election, something akin to “My fellow Americans I apologize but when we were declaring who won two key swing states, Pennsylvania and Florida, we accidentally said who won the primaries there, which in fact was Donald Trump. But the winner of the the Sunshine and Cheesesteak states were, drum roll please, not Donald Trump nor even a male. The actual winner and thus next president is Hillary Clinton.”
It’s nice to fantasize
But last night Oscar’s were Hollywood’s version of a NFL make up call. Apparently the across the board nominations of non-black actors in 2015 and 2016 caused such backlash that Hollywood’s most prized actress, Jada Pinkett Smith, the one who made her husband Will so famous, boycotted the awards. Smith was joined by the usually taciturn Spike Lee who said, “if I wanted to see black people get ignored, I would have hung out a ski slope.”
I have vowed to keep this blog under 500 words so I won’t go off a long rant, something that lets say Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee might do if they felt racial justice wasn’t being served. But I do want to poke a few holes in their logic. They and other well-intentioned liberals ( I guess not as well-intentioned as the liberal writing this blog) believed Hollywood needed to be sent a message about its lack of inclusion. Now chances are historically the awards have not reflected the diversity on which America’s performing arts scene has flourished, considering how few Asians, Latinos, Native-Americans and Hindus get nominated even though collectively they constitute about 30 percent of the American population. But contrary to all of the dissension, African-Americans have done well at the Oscars.
Since 2000, a black actor has won the best actor award three times, Denzel Washington, Forrest Whitaker and Jamie Foxx. Lebron James would have won last year but they are not too happy about him in California.
Three of the last five best supporting actresses have been African-American and 12 Years a Slave and Crash, both Afrocentric films, won best picture.
These numbers may not speak to a truly representative list of winners, but they do suggest that blacks have had consistent placement in the winner’s circle.
Which brings me to the point I wanted to make in the first place. In the 21st century, the concept of diversity has to be examined beyond surface appearance. Schools, workplaces, and cultural institutions all seem to define diversity in terms of race and ethnicity. This may be semantically true but I think it undermines what diversity really encompasses.
First, diversity is an established fact of American life. It is not a quest nor a paperwork requirement. Diversity, especially in the modern age, should foremost be approached less superficially, including heterogeneity in thought, strategic approach, personality, taste and experience level. In fact, trying to define diversity in terms of skin color actually contradicts the intention, and if anything homogenizes the issue .
I recognize that much of what Hollywood does it scripted, but if it wanted a diverse sample size for each category, then make decisions which are color blind, P.R. neutral and instead based on what the people who go to the movies actually think.
Anyway, take nothing away from Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali who won best supporting actress and actor respectively, but those awards really should have gone to Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee. And no offense to Moonlight and kudos to the city of Miami, but now that the Hollywood referees have evened the score, hopefully we can find a way to judge art and artists on their merits, not on what is politically correct.