Thursday, January 21, 2016

Topic Of The Day: #OscarsSoWhite 2.0

Hello, Bloggers! Welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I wanted to continue discussing the #OscarsSoWhite trend and why I think it is getting way out of hand at this point.

First off, I do think that it is glaring and bothersome how once again, all 20 acting nominees are Caucasian. There's no denying that. But I think that the bigger fault lies on the industry itself. If you looked at the acting nominations at the Golden Globes, SAGs, and even the Critics Choice Awards, not only are most of them white, but it is who the studios are persuading the voters to go for. There was quite an outcry that Michael B. Jordan got snubbed for Best Actor in Creed. While I agree that he should've been included, he was still a longshot because most of the buzz and promotion surrounded Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor. Idris Elba did have a good shot at Best Supporting Actor for Beasts of No Nation, but he had the misfortune of competing in a stacked category. Same with Benicio Del Toro in Sicario who only got a BAFTA nomination.

So because the precursors are an indication of what lies ahead for Nomination Day, it is not like voters take a random list of eligible films and performers and pluck them out of a hat. That's not the way it works and after last year's controversy, it is not like performers of color can just expect to magically get nominated to atone for what happened last year. It simply does not work that way. Will Smith was pretty active on the campaign trail for Concussion, but the movie itself came and went, getting mixed reviews and not making much box office business. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that he got left out since nobody paid his performance much mind.

It is also on the studio's hands to do more promotion for their films that center around people of color. If they do solid business, critically and financially, of if they believe in their products early on, then they should get a head start on their Oscar campaigns to promote their talent. When Creed and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which had a diverse main cast, arrived as Oscar players, it was a little late in the game. Star Wars didn't even screen for the Golden Globes.

I worry that because this controversy happened two years in a row, then by the time we see another minority performance get nominated, it'll feel like a token nomination and I'll just say this right now: No performer should ever, EVER, be nominated mainly for their race. No matter what race or gender they are, an actor and director should always get in on merit and merit alone. If that sort of thing happened this year, then we would've probably seen a case like..say, Gugu Mbatha-Raw getting in for Concussion even though she had absolutely nothing to do. I want to see voters be like, "We're including you because you deserve it" and not "We nominated you because we had to." It even makes the performer feel like they didn't put a lot of effort into their performance and takes away from the artistry. If I was black and got recognized because I "had to be," on the inside, I would want them to take my nomination back because I wouldn't have earned it.

Lastly, I want to delve into the boycott started by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith as well as Spike Lee. That is also out of line for a few reasons. One is that Spike Lee just received an Honorary Oscar by the Academy and to bite the hand that just fed him, especially after trash-talking them for snubbing Do The Right Thing for Best Picture, is so petty and makes him come off as a spoiled brat. Also, the ceremony will have a black host with Chris Rock, a black producer with Reginald Hudlin, and of course, the president of the AMPAS, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. So even if they couldn't recognize talent of color in front of the camera, try to show your support for the talent behind it.

So overall, while the Oscars may be an easy target, I feel that people are failing to see the bigger picture and that the Oscars are just a fraction of people in a larger industry which has an influence in what voters put on their ballot. If Hollywood continues to churn out more Creeds, Straight Outta Comptons, and Sicarios while heavily promoting them for awards contention, then we may see some progress down the line. Boycotting the ceremony isn't going to do any good because it might discourage the suits from crafting and promoting such legitimate material.

What do you guys think? Do you agree that this whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy is getting blown out of proportion or do you think this backlash is legitimate? Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!