#OscarsSoWhite or Oscars So Right?

Christopher Tremoglie

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When it comes to colors, green is the color of choice in Hollywood. Their main objective is to maximize as much money as possible on every production. Is Hollywood racist? Eh, they may very well be.
The race card has evolved into a level of utter foolishness. The definition of the word racism has seemingly evolved from a word used to describe immoral oppression or feeling of superiority based on an ethnicity to now a word that is sometimes used to describe a situation which results in not obtaining the desired outcome one seeks—which often trivializes real racism on display.

The Oscars controversy started when Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee made light of the fact that no African-American men or women were nominated for any of the 4 major award categories this year: best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress. Additionally, no movie with a predominant African-American cast was nominated for best movie. One example being used of the slight is the performance of Will Smith in the movie, Concussion.

Will Smith delivered an outstanding performance in Concussion as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who fought against efforts by the National Football League to suppress his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain damage suffered by professional football players. I believe he should have been nominated. The fact that he wasn’t nominated because of his race though is complete hogwash. Throughout the history of the awards, many actors who deliver what are considered amazing performances do not receive nominations. It is known as a snub. The only difference is that when they occur to a Caucasian actor, no one cries racism. Devonte chronicled Leonardo DiCaprio’s many fine performances yet has zero wins. Should there be a campaign for social justice proclaiming DiCaprio was snubbed because he is of Italian descent?

Jada Pinkett Smith’s argument is nothing more than sour grapes under the guise of faux racism because her husband was not nominated. Will Smith delivered a fine performance however, who is to say the other performances were not better? Do we have to nominate an actor of color for an award merely because they are an actor of color? Won’t that eventually lead to not nominating deserving actors and actresses solely because of their skin color, which, in turn, is actual racism?

In an unscientific poll conducted about the Oscars controversy at the Community College of Philadelphia, 93% thought the Oscars nomination process was racist. Of those 93%, 57% proclaimed Smith should have been nominated for his performance. However, of those who said Smith should have been nominated, less than 13% actually saw the movie Concussion.

Let’s examine the claim “Oscar nominations are racist.” First and foremost, the host of the Oscars is Chris Rock – an African-American comedian. Secondly, Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences- an African-American woman (the organization’s first president who is an African-American). Third, this year, the Oscars will be awarding African-American director Spike Lee a “Lifetime Achievement Award”.

When you examine the award recipients, the racism claim dissolves even further. Over the past 20 years, 10% of best supporting actor winners were African-American, 20% of best supporting actresses were black, 15% of best leading actors were black, and 5% of best leading actresses were black. Of the 80 possible winners, 10 were African-American. 10 out of 80 possible winners (10% of 20 best supporting actors + 20% of 20 best supporting actresses + 15% of 20 best leading actors + 5% of 20 best leading actresses)is 12.5%. That is roughly the percentage of the population of African-Americans in the United States. Forgive me if I fail to confuse the Oscars with a KKK rally.

When it comes to movies, Americans are not racists either. Examine the revenues from movies such as Straight Outta Compton, Ride Along 2, Concussion, or Furious 7 (ensembles with a predominantly African-American cast) and you shall see that this country wholeheartedly has no qualms about giving their hard earned money to African-American actors and actresses.

The only problems Hollywood has are those of reflection and hypocrisy. Regarding the controversy, actors Matt Damon and Danny DeVito commented insinuating race problems and, as Damon said, we have a “long way to go”. DeVito further added fuel to the blaze by saying “we are a country of racists”.
How often do either of them have an African-American costar?

Furthermore, DeVito currently stars in the television show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” – a show with an all-white cast. It takes place in Philadelphia, a city with a population proportionately roughly equal between black and white residents. DeVito’s other prominent role was the show Taxi, a comedy from the 70s which focused on a cab driving company that took place in Brooklyn. It also had an all-white cast!

The Oscars are not racist but it’s hard to argue Hollywood is not. Hollywood is filled with sanctimonious types denouncing the problems our country faces, yet, are continuously one of the largest offenders to inequality in its profession. Before they condemn American society, they need to examine who they really are. The next time Matt Damon foregoes a $20 million movie check to give the opportunity to an African-American actor or actress will be his first.

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1 Comment

One Response to “#OscarsSoWhite or Oscars So Right?”

  1. Chad Bixby on February 23rd, 2016 6:24 pm

    A little bit of funk, a little bit of history, a little bit of math — breaking down the #oscarssowhite controversy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18ue9_TgoCM

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#OscarsSoWhite or Oscars So Right?