#OscarSoWhite – White Nominees And Winners, If You Don’t Know What You Are Saying, Do #STFU

Oscar So White
2016 Oscar Nominees #OscarSoWhite 

Since the Oscar nominees were announced a week ago, the media has been ablaze with outrage. Everyone took to social media and print media decrying and denouncing the obvious bias of the academy. While it’s too simple to accuse the all white Oscars as case of straightforward racism and discrimination against black and minority actors and filmmakers, as it has every bit to do with the capitalistic filmmaking economy and how Hollywood conducts business, which results in poor quality films with very little actors of color; the biases of the majorly white members of the academy of a certain age has reared its ugly head two years in a row.

White America this time, has wisely stayed out of debate except to express outrage. There will be no more of the Nancy Lee Grahn’s style of outbursts criticizing Viola Davis’s Emmy Awards acceptance speech. The backlash which resulted from those few tweets by Nancy Lee Grahn have taught the white collective to keep their big mouths shut when black people and minorities are talking about lack of diversity in television and movies. Even if they don’t agree with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee calling for all black people to boycott the Oscars or any other method of protest, it’s best to keep that opinion to yourself if you are white.

So far the white collective have been good about keeping contrary opinions about the so-white Oscars to themselves, that is until our European counterparts decided to express theirs. Before the American media comes down too hard on the statements of Charlotte Rampling, Julie Delpy and the confusion of Michael Caine of not realizing no black people were nominated in the major Oscar categories, these people are European, French and English to be exact. While racism, elitism and classism exists in the UK and France, at least in artistic circles they’ve achieved a level of egalitarianism where racism, bias and discrimination against minorities isn’t as blatant. Good actors and filmmakers can be judged on their abilities and quality of work. It’s not total egalitarianism but compared to Hollywood, it’s a much better situation. It is doubtful that Rampling, Delpy and Caine are fully aware of the tinderbox that is racism in this country. They may have heard about the police shootings of black men and children and the death of Sandra Bland while in custody etc., but they are perhaps not as aware about the rampant institutionalized racism that plagues every corner of this country. They probably naively assumed that the lack of minorities being recognized for the Oscars is simply because there aren’t any good movies to choose from which contain minority actors, writers and directors. This is fair enough. They live and work largely in Europe, if they do come to the States it’s for work and promotion and they stay in swanky hotels and dine in fancy restaurants for the duration of their stay. Their ignorance can be forgiven.

However, if this is the case, then please do us all a favor. Please STFU (shut the fuck up) about things you know nothing about. If I went to France or the U.K. and mouthed off about some domestic issue which is specific to the country, I’d be called an ignorant American with a big mouth who knows nothing. 

There is no such thing as “being racists to whites” or what we call reverse racism. It’s something a bunch of  mediocre disgruntled white people made up because they didn’t get what they want based on the color their white skin. It’s not a real thing. Dominant powers in any society cannot experience racism and discrimination the oppressed minorities experience. The supposed ‘racism’ white people experience is merely a minor inconvenience compared to the real soul crushing racism minorities experience on a daily basis.

Rampling’s further comments in the same interview,

Why classify people? We live now in countries where anyway people are more or less accepted. There are always problems: ‘He’s less handsome’ or ‘He’s too black’ or ‘He’s too white.’ There will always, always be someone who will say, ‘Oh, you’re too…’ What are we going to do? We’re going to classify all that to create thousands of little minorities everywhere?

In a perfect world, this would be true, though her delivery is very insensitive and abrupt. While it’s true in television and movies, any actor or actress can potentially be told they are ‘too…’, but the fact that there are few faces of color should lead anyone with a logical mind to conclude that the whole industry itself is too white.

Julie Delpy would rather be black in Hollywood than a white woman? She needs her head examined. If she were black, her charming little film ‘2 Days in New York’ would have never been made. She would have never been chosen to write for the movies ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Midnight’ even if it was her concept to begin with. Hollywood is also notorious for hijacking the ideas of writers, paying them a paltry sum for the ‘idea’ and then taking that idea to later make millions with it, of which the original writer with the idea won’t see a penny of. If she weren’t white, she’d have never received Oscar nominations for those efforts, which to be honest, are mediocre at best. But the old white guys up at the academy liked it.

Delpy’s full statement reads: “Two years ago, I said something about the Academy being very white male, which is the reality, and I was slashed to pieces by the media. It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward. It’s the hardest to be a woman. Feminists is something people hate above all. Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that.”  

It’s also funny to note, Delpy said this at a Sundance Film Festival press conference while promoting her movie which Macaulay Culkin was present as he is in her movie, as she was talking he put his head in his hands, knowing the shitstorm that is about to hit her. If only she had such foresight.

Delpy’s statement besides being highly inappropriate, is also implying that African Americans can say what they want and get away with it because to openly speak out against African Americans would be seen as racist and no one wants to be called a racist so people keep quiet. I am not sure if this is true, this could just be her perception. But if it were true and Hollywood does give carte blanche for black people to say what they want about the filmmaking industry, did it ever occur to her that the supposed silence is not one of agreement but one of quiet contempt and dismissal? Just because the powers that be in Hollywood let black people criticize the system and get away with it, it doesn’t mean they are being heard or taken seriously.

It’s not easy being a woman in Hollywood either, especially a woman over a certain age. Women have their own struggles when trying to get their work recognized, so the blanket dismissal of bias by Rampling and Delpy comparing her plight as a white woman to those of minorities are incorrect and out of order.

Both actresses have since apologized for their remarks. I hope they’ve learned their lesson. As privileged white people, don’t talk about things which don’t relate to you.

Michael Caine’s crime is he is seemingly unaware there were no black actors nominated. He asked the interviewer at one point:

“The one I — I don’t know whether Idris [Elba] got [nominated] because I saw Idris [in ‘Beasts of No Nation‘], and I thought he was wonderful. I thought he would get [nominated]. Did he not get nominated?”

No sir, that’s the problem that everyone has been talking about. No black actors or actresses were nominated.

Prior to that, he also said the Academy can’t vote just vote for an actor because he is black even though “He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.” Again, the same problem, there hasn’t been any black actors to vote for, you couldn’t vote for a bad acting performance from a black actor even if you wanted to. Do keep up Mr. Caine.

Racism has changed in America. It went from the overt, frothing at the mouth, KKK marching and church burning type of open racism and bigotry to the quiet, covert and passive aggressive kind of racism, or what some would call ‘micro-aggressions’, barely detectable but for the most attuned and keenest of observers. It’s the inappropriate jokes which are meant to serve as icebreakers, the barely detectable slights and the ‘accidentally on purpose’ exclusions of minorities for plum projects. The unemployment rate of blacks are 9.2%, double that of whites. This statistic alone should paint a picture of racism in America. Being gainfully employed is a marker of inclusion or lack thereof. Being employed offers one dignity in life, it gives one an opportunity to contribute to society at large.

7 thoughts on “#OscarSoWhite – White Nominees And Winners, If You Don’t Know What You Are Saying, Do #STFU

  1. I see this as more the product of the isolation of the Hollywood elite than of Delpy (who speaks unaccented, idiomatic America English) or Cain or Rampling being foreign. At some point you become so wrapped up in your own individualistic struggle you don’t see the larger society.

    That inevitably leads to the question: If Hollywood shapes are reality, then what does it mean when people who run Hollywood are isolated from reality? Will putting a few more black faces in the Oscars change anything? Or should we reject the system altogether.

    p.s. At one time (in the 30s when it was actually pretty good) Hollywood was run by people (Jews) who were at least partly outsiders and who had ties to a larger immigrant community. A lot of the quality movies back then came out of a desire to assimilate into the American, WASP mainstream. Now Hollywood is almost completely run by insiders and the elite.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s all of it and more. I blame it on the capitalistic nature of Hollywood. The whole – we must answer to our investors tripe and they sacrifice artistry in the end.
      As for having more black faces – I speak from the perspective of economic equality. This means a lot of black and minority actors do not have a way to earn a living. Of course it’s the dream to act in good films, tv or stage productions where their artistry is shown and stretched.
      I say we abolish the current systems and films are to be made on basis of quality determined by peers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I think it goes beyond capitalism since films with black or female heroes sell like very well yet Hollywood still seems reluctant to make them.

        Some of it might have to do with Hollywood’s ties to the MIC (military industrial complex). Nostalgia Chick at Channel Awesome has been talking about how the Transformers films are propaganda for the MIC for awhile now. Then Michael Bey goes and makes a Bengahzi film.

        In general the idea that people won’t see a film with a black hero is Hollywood fantasyland.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Everyday Voices,

    Great post and discussion. In answer to your question of whether it’s too much to ask for more GOOD FILMS … the answer is no, but you will need to look outside of mainstream Hollywood. By “good,” I gather you mean storytelling and originality, which you can find in indie film. Not all of them are good, but there are a few gems every so often. I follow a lot of independent filmmakers and they struggle to get distribution, but they are out there. Hollywood, for the most part, panders to the masses, a rehash of old stories, sequels and prequels, and originality and storytelling be damned. They are not known for art films because they don’t have the draw at the box office.

    I’m not putting down the Hollywood formula. It’s one that works for them. When I want to see a blockbuster film like SPECTRE, I go to the theatre. Beasts of No Nation was not released globally but only through film festivals (here at TIFF last year). Afterward, it went on NetFlix but was never released on the big screen.

    For me, the Oscars are akin to a silly pageant. Being nominated/winning speaks only to what is best in the eyes of the voters — not in the eyes of anyone else. If I use this premise, should I conclude that the members of the academy are racists, or that they have racist attitudes toward minorities in film because no black actor was nominated this year?

    My answer is no. Everyone has a bias, and it may or may not be racially motivated. Idris Elba was not nominated, possibly because none of the members saw the film.

    As a subset of Hollywood, the members of the academy represent (at best), who controls the money. If we consider the decision-makers are overwhelmingly white and male, then it’s no surprise the nominees/winners might also be white and male. Herein lies the problem, Hollywood’s failure to recognize racial diversity in the film creation process.

    With this recent debacle, the problem is using racism as a response to an awards show. The Oscars is the wrong target in this boycott campaign. The idea that the awards has ever been a meritocracy is ludicrous. There are numerous factors that determine nominees— including who are the better schmoozers. Every year, Harvey Weinstein is lauded for his tireless efforts to ensure the academy members see his films.

    Sentimentality is also a factor. Senior or acclaimed actors who have been repeatedly snubbed are sometimes rewarded more for their body of work than the performance they actually get an Oscar for. Case in point this year—Sylvester Stallone in Creed.

    If there is anyone to blame, it might be the studios who hire relatively few African-Americans to direct or star in major U.S. movies. Ultimately, the barometer for racial equality should not be the number of black faces on an Oscar nomination ballot. It should be the the number of minorities who are able to find work within the film industry in ALL areas.

    As an aside, Will Smith and his wife would have had a lot more credibility if they did not boycott in a year where Smith was hyped for a nomination (and did not get it). Neither of them are representative of the minorities who have to struggle to find work in Hollywood, let alone be recognized at the Oscars. They come off disingenuous when they are now “fighting for all minorities.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eden – as for ‘good’ films, what I’d like to see is Hollywood using its considerable resources to make smaller independent films or at least agree to distribute them. It’s already established that Hollywood just churns out prequels sequels and all that. While the Academy awards do not represent ‘good’ films at all or even good acting, as of right now it’s still the most coveted acting/movie prize, it’s stupid and silly. but perhaps if the list of films to choose from is bigger and more inclusive the nominations and eventual winners will reflect that? I think the Academy award is wasting its platform to promote good movies….
      Harvey Weinstein is a joke and they are way past their sell by date. The best movies I’ve ever seen are subtitled movies filmed in black and white. I had a Netflix membership, but I started binge watching too many shows and decided I need Netflix detox 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s a tall order for Hollywood to make smaller indie films. I’m not saying they won’t. They may do it infrequently, but it will be at a cost to their bottom line, and they can only do this for so long without losing money.

        I believe there is a big list of films to choose from, but as you say, it’s not inclusive. If we consider film as representative of the real world, then racial diversity is certainly lacking in mainstream Hollywood.

        More films with black actors will not necessarily mean more nominations for black actors, but it’s a start. 😉

        eden

        Liked by 1 person

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