Monday, January 19, 2015

Not Everything is About Color

On MLK Day it seems quite fitting to discuss the color of the Oscars. I empathize with the frustrations of minorities in feeling they are under-represented in the world of film and television but it is getting better. I get that it would be annoying to not see more people who look like me in the movies but I don't believe that story telling and awards need to be color specific. There are many things that separate people and put them in boxes. It is not all race based. With that in mind, there are simple facts when it comes to awards in the world of appearances and it really isn't about color.
  1. Selma didn't play the game. Nominations are all about the game. If you think everyone in Hollywood gets together and makes these choices of their own accord you are crazy. Screeners are sent out, ads are purchased and whole publicity campaigns are waged, people make huge money running these campaigns to get people and movies nominated. Selma didn't send screeners. Selma didn't give as many free viewings. Selma did itself a major disservice by assuming someone who played a famous black man would simply be nominated for doing just that.
  2.  Who shouldn't have been nominated? There are too many excellent movies to make a case that Selma's lead actor was overlooked simply because he was black. He was not nominated because in a tough field of actors this year his performance was simply not as noticeable as the five other men who were nominated. As usual it was a stellar year (for those who are male) and there are many men who could make a good case for a performance that deserved notice. Only 5 are chosen and I challenge you to tell me who should have been off the list so it could include David Oyelowo. Don't even get me started on the lack of parts for females. (Check out Julianne Moore's speech from the Critic's Choice Awards for a good expression of sexism in movies).
  3.    Just because you make a great movie, doesn't mean you will get a nomination. Great movies throughout history have been snubbed or overlooked by the Oscars. Often the movies as of late that are even nominated are not popular by mainstream standards. This makes the Academy Awards not a popularity contest but rather a vehicle for cause movies and lesser known entities. I think a better argument could be made to move away from this current trend and get back into what the public likes.
  4. There are many awards that are more heavily weighted to the black community and no one has a problem with this fact. When the Grammys started paying attention to who was popular, look at the color change up. Of course, since the beginning there have been more black winners than white on music stage and no one seems to notice or care. In a number of arenas black people outnumber others but yet a single missing face irritates everyone when it comes to the Oscars? How is that right? Quincy Jones has more Grammys than anyone, he's black. The country music solo performance went to Darius Rucker last year. The top four spots of total numbers of Grammys are all black people. Why does no one care or notice this?
  5. There are many careers that are more favored by other ethnicities based on talent, skill and hard work that I don't have a chance to be a part of as an average height, white female. The NBA, the NFL, the MLB are chock full of "minorities." The hard work and talent of these individuals as well as certain genetic gifts makes them superior. Why would one complain they cannot rule all arenas? It is not practical nor does it make sense.

The Golden Globes hate Clint Eastwood, not a single Globe nomination for Clint and American Sniper, yet a plethora of nods for  Oscar. Is that because he's white? No. It's because he doesn't play nice with the foreign press. We need to stop seeing color barriers where they aren't. Selma is a fantastic movie. It deserves to be nominated for best picture and it is. It deserves to be nominated for best song and it is. It didn't make the cut in performance, not because of color but because of competition. To give a pity nomination to a black person every year is not a solution. To assume you will get nominated because you play a civil rights leader is ludicrous. It is all about great stories and great movies. 

With the growing unrest around race relations it seems more imperative than ever for people to stop putting others in categories. Killing police because they are police is not fair. Treating others  badly because they are women is not fair. Assuming those of color are violent is not fair. But life is not fair. What we need to look at is providing more opportunity for everyone. The opportunity to get a good education. The opportunity to learn how to be better parents. The opportunity to make a living wage. The opportunity to tell your story. What you do with that opportunity is up to you. 

Side Note: The Lego movie didn't get nominated for best animated feature, prejudice against squares and circles or just plastic people?