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.