I’ll Watch the Super Bowl but NOT the Oscars!
Full disclosure…I am a Seattle Seahawks fan. Having lived in Seattle for over 23 years, see ed my love of all things Seattle goesway back. That is to say I’m not a new or bandwagon fan. I was into the Seahawks when all they had was Steve Largent and Kenny Easley. The emergence of Russell Wilson, order Seattle’s “mind over matter” QB, should give anyone from RVA a special sense of satisfaction and outright pride. He is a for-real hometown hero having been raised up right here in the River City. The Seattle QB is an authentically grounded, caring, and first-class human being. He is the real deal, a genuine straight-up young man. For Russell Wilson it’s not just about the game itself. “It’s bigger than just a game.”
This year’s Oscar Nominations hold a similar type of symbolism and importance no matter how inadvertent or unintentional the choices or omissions may be; the visual dissonance of the 2015 class of nominees is shockingly hegemonic. It is dominated by white, mostly male people, which is not in and of itself odd but given the sociopolitical climate we are in right now, the conversations about race, gender and justice at the forefront of protests, court cases and conversations happening around the nation and in major urban centers, the retrogression into the “good old days” of Hollywood feels oddly out of step and eerily nostalgic. The demographics of those who have the power and authority to make the nominations and ultimately choose who is the best of the best have, once again demonstrated, in a strangely familiar way, how quickly and demonstratively our so-called progressive and inclusive society can regress to a time when both access and opportunity were denied to so many people, with particular exclusion of Black artists, Black stories, contributions and talent. The Motion Picture Academy membership is 90% white and 77% male. Only 2% are Black, less than 2% Latino or “other”, and only 14% are under the age of 50 so it is clear how the focus of the stories told is what it is. There is a lot of money in Hollywood and there are a lot of very smart, talented, and even progressive people. If they really had a resolve to change the “way things are”, there are enough creative minds and resources to cultivate a climate for that change. Instead, there appears to be a lack of interest in recognizing that there is a problem. There is so much backslapping, self-promotion and lobbying going on at the party, that the excess of multiple nominations and wins, the high-fiving and red carpet walking becomes its own distraction. “It’s a so much about me that I completely forgot about you celebration.” The club that has historically denied access and opportunity in Hollywood becomes so homogenous that they don’t even notice how monolithic they are. The complete absence of color in the major nominated categories makes this year’s Oscars the whitest in several decades.
Until major stars become conscious and begin to demand colorful casting choices on the films they make and projects they accept; until studios promote directors and cinematographers of color; until more inclusive screenplays are submitted and considered by studios; and until creative people promote pathways of inclusion, access and opportunity for artists of All colors…I will watch, for me, the more authentic and inclusive Super Bowl and Not the Oscars. #GOHAWKS
Up Next Week: We Shall Not Be Moved