For the second year in a row, every acting nominee at the Oscars is white, and as expected- people have lost their shit. Some notable stars like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have decided to not attend the award show. Others like Charlotte Rampling have spoken out on the alleged “reverse racism” that has occurred as a result of the public outcry against the awards. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has taken over the Internet, and racist trolls are attempting to silence any race debates by arguing that we as a society are suffocating under the weight of affirmative action, which is bullshit.
Critics of the Oscar controversy argue that people of color were not nominated because they did not deliver award worthy performances. If we accept that to be true it’s only because what it is good is being determined by pool of conservative, like-minded voters who are ignorant of diversity. Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, and Michael B. Jordan all received rave reviews for their performances in their respective films, so it’s clear that white people weren’t the only ones to deliver good performances this year. And yet they received no love at the Oscars. This isn’t because their performances weren’t “Oscar level”; it’s because the Oscars as an institution caters to whites.
Others will say that previous winners like Mo’Nique, Lupita Nyong’o are proof that people of color do receive Oscar love. But if you look at previous black winners you’ll find a common thread that isn’t as prevalent with white winners. Black winners tend to star in movies that focus on the black experience. It’s like the only way a black actor can be recognized is if they star in a movie about the Civil Rights Movement, slavery, or poverty that stems from race. But the majority of white winners play roles that have absolutely nothing to do with race. People of color are relegated to playing up identity politics while white people are able to snag every award worthy role. In Hollywood, whiteness is an inherent trait of most characters, regardless of whether or not that is explicitly stated. You know how people in a court case are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty? Well, in Hollywood characters are presumed to be white until proven otherwise.
15 Asians have won in Acting categories in the entire history of the Oscars. The first African American actress didn’t win one until 2011. How is that we live in a world where Jennifer Lawrence can play characters way older than her, and Eddie Redmayne can be lauded for his “bravery” for playing a transgender woman, but we cannot fathom breaking up the white monopoly of roles? The sad reality is that people of color aren’t nominated as much because they aren’t given the same chances. It’s not an issue of affirmative action, or giving roles to people of color willy-nilly, it’s about giving them the fucking chance to show the world that they are just as talented and capable.
Here’s the truth of the matter: if you have said anything remotely like “black people weren’t nominated because they didn’t do good movies” then you are a complete fuck head. If you’re aware of how terrible Hollywood is, but don’t say anything because that’s “just how Hollywood is” then you are a complete fuck head. I don’t expect people to boycott the show, or certain films, nut I do feel like we have an obligation to speak out against the bullshit. We have to call out racism when we see it, and continuously remind ourselves that our comfort is not greater than the need for equity. If I’ve learned anything from Michael Bay’s career, or the lack of diversity in movies, it’s that we all deserve better.