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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/19/16

Hollywood, Racism And The Oscars

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The Academy Awards or The Oscars
The Academy Awards or The Oscars
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Black folks are getting bent out of shape because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences did not nominate a Black actor for any major acting category in this year's motion picture awards. People are upset that for the second consecutive year in a row, no minorities (read Black or Latino) were nominated in any of the four major acting categories. I do not know why people are expecting any change in the way that a small cabal of white people far removed from the normal influences of daily life was going to do anything different.

Last year they thumbed their collective noses at "Selma," instead nominating some vapid, over blown flick with dubious story lines. Also on the 2016 list, British actor Idris Elba was ignored after his superlative performance as an African warlord in "Beasts of No Nation." Will Smith, giving his usual stellar work in "Concussion," was also given the thumbs down.

Throughout its history the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has been condemned for the barely concealed racism of its approximately 7,000 white old, largely male membership. Today, it's a combination of reflexive racism and being out of touch with reality that drives the nomination process. Recall way back in 1996 the Reverend Jesse Jackson led protests against the organization over its institutionalized racism. This also is the first time in the Academy's history that there have been no Black acting nominees two years in a row. The last time that happened was in 1997 and 1998.

But try as you might to cut it, dice it or slice it, Black movie going and support is a financial bonanza for the Hollywood acting crowd. For example, in a 2014, study by the Motion Picture Association of America revealed that Blacks and Hispanics account for 46 percent of movie goers although making up 37 percent of the population. We love our movies. Yes sir! So in essence Black and minority people support white actors, actresses and companies in an industry that treats them as crap. Our money matters but our actors still can't compare or compete with white actors.

And herein lies the racism. By snubbing Black and Latino actors and actresses the all-white nomination is routinely saying to us that committee's perception and measure of perfect acting can only be viewed through white lens. By casting a blind eye to the incredible acting of Blacks these 7,000 old, white men are casting Blacks in a stereotype light of inferiority due to color and thus peddling the fallacy that they are substandard and do not measure up to white acting standards. There is really no other way to put it.

Whether consciously or unconsciously this is racism -- pure and simple.

Look, if you love the fluff and vanity that is the Oscar Award circus then go ahead and knock yourself out. But please people stop getting angry over how the nominating committee did Black and minority actors in -- yet again. Point is that this is the exact result of having an organization that's 94 percent white, 77 percent male with an average age of 63 years. Fact is that this award ceremony is directly out of touch and at odds with the changes both in the entertainment industry and American life in general.

It's an event that is buttressed and nurtured by the flawed, closed and unimaginative thinking of a bunch of old white men still yearning for the days of Cary Grant and Greta Garbo. Remember that last year "Selma" not a substandard movie but a very well packaged and powerful film with a powerful message was knocked out of contention by "American Sniper" a movie about senseless killing. And it's that strong underpinning of racism that makes me want to regurgitate.

For those of you not looking "Selma" was directed by a young Black woman, Ava DuVernay, while "American Sniper" was directed by an old popular Hollywood mainstay Clint Eastwood -- an old white guy. And for all the defensive clap-trap by the Academy's president, African-American Cheryl Boone Isaccs, that the nominating committee does not have "a problem with diversity" their decisions speak volumes to the contrary. The blunt conclusion is that they bloody well do.

Let's see if I can put this in very, simple layman's terms: When America is changing demographically and racially, when white America is not 94 percent of the population and when your decisions based on the foregoing does not reflect these deep and sustained changes, when you conveniently ignore the realities of today, then you're BOTH out of touch and inherently racist - period.

Still, Chris Rock, the host in 2016 awards, put it raw and right some time ago. This is what he said: "It's a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. It just is." That I agree with that but it's also an industry where diversity and inclusion lags behind American society at every turn. The sad thing is that for all Black folks "cussin and fussin" they're still going to watch it. Black people love to see the spectacle, the red carpet ceremony, the $10,000 dresses and tuxedoed men. It makes them feel good. Its escapism at its very best. It's a show that demonstrates the affluence and over-indulgence of the spoiled, arrogant and puffed up denizens of the 1%. We mere mortals could only look on from afar and gawk. In 2015 43 million people watched the Academy Awards spectacular across 200 countries.

So it is with this invitation only club. You just can't apply for membership. You have to be sponsored by two active members and then screened by a Board of Directors that has the final say. Now you know that old Clint Eastwood types are not going to invite and nominate a guy like Chis Rock. And even if he did you can bet you last dollar that the Board of Directors (all white) will just say no. That's why of the 7,000 strong membership only 3% is Black or put another way that's just about 210 people who can't do jack to get a Black or Hispanic nominated -- they just don't have the numbers.

Anyone can guess why Blacks are only 3%?

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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