Chris Rock to host the 88th, 2016 Academy Awards, February 28th
On the heels of the “Black Lives Matter” brigade or bandwagon, comes the protests of certain African American Actors towards the lack of “black actors” nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. Does one have to do with the other? Well, let’s not stop there. There’s allegedly, a Civil Liberties Union who have called for a government investigation into the hiring practises within Hollywood’s film industry, citing that between 2013 and 2014, 82% of movies were directed by white men. It certainly sounds as though this latest protest towards the Academy Awards may be connected in some way to black “rights” in a lot of areas of life.
During a Martin Luther King Day ceremony, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith and director, Spike Lee, both stated that they were boycotting the awards this year because of the lack of representation of the black population.
Pinkett-Smith said she would not attend because it was the second year in a row, none of the nominations were of black people. Of course, Pinkett-Smith’s husband, actor, Will Smith was not nominated for an award in the best actor category this year for his role in “Concussion”. Spike Lee’s film, aChicago gang violence hip-hop musical “Chi-Raqand” didn’t make it either. There were a lot of critics who scorned Lee’s movie. That leaves the question for these two of whether it could also make it more to do with perhaps, some sour grapes? It appears that these 2 are the strongest voices in this “protest” against the awards this year.
Spike said he “cannot support” the “lily white” Oscars.
If anyone cares to know the stats on African American/Blacks nominated or having won Academy awards, it’s here. Forty-four African Americans have been nominated to date. This will be the 88th year for the awards ceremony so, I guess it will depend upon which vantage point one is taking but, given that African American actors and actresses have only in recent years been seriously involved in the movie industry, it may or may not be more slanted towards that of a stats point of view?
“African-American actresses and actors are more common on the big screen, but they are still scarce in bigger blockbuster movies, “with the stakes high, many studio executives worry that films that focus on African-American themes risk being too narrow in their appeal to justify the investment. Hollywood has nonetheless shown a willingness in recent years to bank more heavily on African-American actors and themes.” Studio executives explain the lack of presence of the African Americans in supporting or starring roles by stating “only 4 out of 10 movies turn a profit, according to the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. But because pictures with nearly all-black casts come along more infrequently, they tend to stand out more when they fail”. This was according to studio producers.
It’s estimated that 1 Billion (yes, you read that number correctly), viewers will tune into the 2016 Academy Awards with African American Comedian, Chris Rock as host.
“That 1 billion number isn’t going to change a whole lot if black people didn’t watch,” said Naeemah Clark, a TV analyst who teaches entertainment economics and diversity at Elon University in North Carolina. “But it’s not really about the numbers,” she added Tuesday. “How many more years do we have to be reminded that there are segments of our population who are not being represented?”
It’s hard to say exactly what is meant here by Naeemah Clark. Is she saying that The Academy needs to throw in African American nominations as “token nominations” to soothe racial tensions?
However, let’s take a quick look at how Oscar Nominations are determined to decipher who gets nominated, how and why.
There are some several thousand members of the Academy who all get to vote on different categories for nomination. The ballots are cast and they are counted. The ones with the most votes are the ones nominated. That’s a very simplified version of the process but, suffice it to say that it’s much like a political election. Those eligible to vote, vote and the candidates with the most votes, wins. Actors vote on actors, actresses vote on actresses, directors vote on directors and well, you get the gist. If you’d like to read more in-depth as to the process, which is more complicated than what this interpretation makes it seem, you can read it here.
Given how that works, it appears that it’s the members of The Academy (the actors, actresses, directors, producers etc.) who decide who gets both the nominations as well as the winners in each category. It’s not the general public. The average Jane and Joe have NO say in who wins these awards. So, what is that saying? Actors and actresses, directors and producers…the entire gamut and spectrum within The Academy are chiefly racists? That’s pretty much what this type of stance is saying.
But, wait a minute here. If that’s the case, where are the Black members stances in the voting process? Does that mean that all members of The Academy who are members of the Black population, will ONLY vote for Black members? Does it mean that there just aren’t enough Black members of The Academy to vote the Black Hollywood Population into nominations and wins? Exactly what is this all saying?
“The black television audience overall is pretty small, as little as 5 million during the Academy Awards, and has fluctuated in the last 10 years,” a quote from The International Business Times is quoted here as saying.
So, even the Black viewers are not much interested in watching The Academy Awards. Is it because it’s white dominated? What about years when star-studded people like Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, Denzel Washington and other big name, Black stars have been nominated? Do they tend to watch more then or, are they simply not interested in The Awards to begin with? The Black population makes up about 13.2% of the American population and being about 41.7 million people, how is it that only about 5 million of them, tend to watch in spite of members of the Black Community being nominated during other years? Who has those stats and reasons/motivations or lack of them?
From my little corner of life, if there is a conspiracy going on for an all white awards ceremony, there shouldn’t be. However, given all of the above, there appears to more of a bandwagon to jump on for perhaps, sour-graped, Black actors and actresses in Hollywood and they are going to use whatever vehicle they can jump upon. One thing is for sure though, no one should “cave” to political, race or cultural pressure just because that pressure is there. Examine the facts first. If there is a justified and bonafide gripe, fix it. If not, don’t let political correctness or fear of being considered “racist” be the factor on which things are based. Do what’s right, not what’s pressured by a group of any kind.
And, maybe, it’s time to just drop the Academy Awards totally? After all, it’s about Hollywood, honouring Hollywood. It’s not about the average Jane and Joe giving them the nods or the nays nor the glamorous awards ceremony. This is Hollywood where everything is made up, including the actors and actresses.