It’s rare for me to attempt to tackle an issue that has been peddled by our poor mass media just to grab headlines; but I find the issue so inviting just like Eve in the garden of Eden I have no choice but to take a bite of the damn apple despite the consequences.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee believe that people of colour should boycott this years Oscars ceremony due to the lack of diversity present with this years nominees and although I understand the intent, I can’t help but feel the direction of their energies could be used to address the condition of the problem rather than the symptoms.
I know nothing about the inner workings of the Hollywood studio system so perhaps there is a larger discussion to be had about the films made in Tinseltown and opportunities available…but it’s almost too easy to take a swipe at the Oscars and encourage celebrity millionaires to boycott a glorified, self serving process especially when you take into account what diversity really means…
So for the purposes of this post let’s look specifically at the nominations for best male actor in a leading role and swim a little deeper than just the surface.
And the nominee’s are…
- A 59 year man of Irish and Jewish decent who spent much of his life watching his father fail at achieving his dreams.
- A Boston born 45 year old married an Argentinian woman with three daughters.
- A 41 year old of Italian, German & Russian decent with no siblings and a child of parental divorce who grew up in a rough area of Los Angeles.
- One of five children a British born 34 year who attained a very privileged education who recently married and is expecting his first child this year.
- A 38 year old, born in Heidelberg, Germany eventually moved to Ireland at the age of two.
The fact is every nominee in that category has a diverse cultural heritage. How can you truly embrace diversity by just looking at what you see on the outside and not the interior of an individual experience or circumstance?
None of the nominees are under 30, overweight or balding so does that mean heavy set, follicaly challenged, young actors should also boycott the Oscars this year? I guess it depends on the selective type of prejudice you are looking to promote. Should diversity just be measured by what is seen on the surface? If we do then doesn’t this promote a visual prejudice and ignorance that society wants to move away from and has historically caused so much trouble in the first place?
I mean we are talking about the Oscars! These are the very same Oscars who previously awarded Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyoung’o, Forest Whitaker and “voice of God” Morgan Freeman, so I sincerely hope these awards were given because of strong, powerful undeniable performances and not just because of an actors melanin content.
Head of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs is looking to change the membership rules to include a more diverse range of individuals more inclusive of gender, race, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation…which in my opinion is no bad thing but why not really open the envelope (slight bad pun intended!) and scrap the best male and female actor leading performance altogether? Why not have best actor in a leading role and have all genders nominated in the same category?
Again I am not saying there are not wider issues that need to be addressed; as personally I can’t understand why Michael B Jordan didn’t at least taste a nomination for his role in Creed yet Jennifer Laurence seems to be nominated because the wind changes, but these are the Oscars and I don’t want nominations or wins for any actor to be tainted by political correctness.
Léon: The Professional, The Shawshank Redemption, The Wizard of Oz, Seven, Flowers of War, The Dark Knight Rises, Captain America: Civil War, Jean de Florette, Fatal Attraction, A Few Good Men, The Intouchables, Pulp Fiction and the Bourne trilogy doesn’t even scratch the surface of the surface when it comes to the range of films that I enjoy…
Like Boyz II Men I am down On Bended Knee pleading that no one gets too caught up in weak Twitter campaigns to attack the most celebrated narcissistic party of the year that most of us will never attend. At the core of diversity should be an understanding that each individual is unique regardless of what they look like on the surface…and let’s be honest an Oscar nomination or win doesn’t validate my love for a film anymore than a Grammy nomination has ever influenced my love of a song.
Until next time.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.“
Martin Luther King Jr.