Friday, February 26, 2016

The #OscarsSoWhite debate: Boycott or Not?

In today’s post I’m including an excerpt straight from the pages of Variety. I haven’t talked much about the #OscarsSoWhite debate or the call for an Oscar boycott. There is an undeniable dearth of diversity in Hollywood but it’s not the Oscar voters to blame. It’s primarily the producers, the money people who insist on casting white actors because that’s where the money is. The studios who decide which movies they’re going to push and promote. Should Netflix have pushed harder to make sure Idris Elba received a Best Actor nomination? Yes, they should have. But would that one nomination have changed the fundamental lack of diversity? No because it’s an across the board problem. People of color in Hollywood are like people of color in Beverly Hills. They’re just not a presence. 
Beyond the producers, it’s the writers who write from their own experience, experiences sadly devoid of people of color. The directors who want to tell stories that typically come from their pov, that of mostly white men. It’s a systemic case of myopia that demands a cure but a boycott is only a bandaid. I’m not saying don’t put the bandaid on, but real change will only come when more diversity is seen in film schools, in writer’s programs, in casting offices, on the sets of studio films, in front of and behind the camera, and in those studio boardrooms. 
John Oliver has a stinging—but hilarious—take on the problem. Following that is the Variety piece on Reverend Al Sharpton’s call for a boycott.
Variety:
Rev. Al Sharpton will lead a rally protesting the lack of black Oscar nominees.
The civil rights leader and MSNBC host will orchestrate a demonstration near the Dolby Theater on Sunday right before the Academy Award broadcast begins. Earlier in the day, Sharpton will preach at two Los Angeles churches — the Second Baptist Church and the First AME Church.
The rally is being organized by the National Action Network, the civil rights group Sharpton founded and leads. In an interview with Variety last month, Sharpton said he planned to call for a “tune out,” urging viewers not to watch the awards show because voters had not recognized the work of black performers such as Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Will Smith (“Concussion”). It’s the second straight year that the acting category was made up entirely of white actors.
“If major advertisers know that people are tuning out and the ratings are down, that will impact the bottom line of the value of the Academy and the Academy has to, at some point, determine whether or not it is in their interest to continue excluding people and excluding them at what price,” Sharpton said.
Other civil rights groups won’t be joining the demonstrations. Rather than protest the awards show, the Hollywood branch of the NAACP said it will work with entertainment industry leaders to promote diversity. Some notable African-American filmmakers and talent, such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, have pledged not to attend this year’s Oscars.

NAN rallies are also planned in Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta. It’s not clear how close to the show demonstrators will be able to get. Security is expected to be tight, and the area surrounding the Dolby, where the broadcast is held, will be off limits to the general public.” 


A lot of people I know dont watch the Oscars. They find all that fuss and bother ridiculous. Im partial because my husband works in the industry, and my brother works for the library at the Academy. Hes not a member, hes an employee, so he doesn’t get a vote but every year one of the job perks is that he and his wife go to the Oscars. He dusts off his tuxedo, his wife puts on a glamorous black dress, and they get to walk the red carpet alongside Hollywood royalty. He took me a few years ago when Olivia Spencer won for Best Supporting Actress and Viola Davis was nominated for Best Actress for The Help. I was right behind Spencer on the red carpet and snuck that picture on my phone. That was back in 2012 when the Oscars werent quite so white.
Boycott or not? What would you do?


                           

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