The Academy Awards Controversy

OScarBy Lyle Foster

Unite Contributing Writer

No Movie Review this month……

In honor of Black History month I am not doing a movie review this month but simply commenting on the continuing controversy and criticism around the lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominations.  Apparently the 20 academy award nominees are all white causing many in the industry to cry out that racism is again rampant in the process.  It has been the subject of jokes but obviously this is no laughing matter as Hollywood rakes in hundreds of millions and billions and often from black audiences.  But the politically correct executives still have not caught up with the times apparently and by many people’s standards it is not just in terms of lead parts and recognition going to actors and actresses of color but other forms of diversity as well.

So while there are a number of new movies coming out this month that feature many talented actors and actresses it is important to not lose sight of the fact that in many ways we are still taken for granted in a lot of ways.  This column has spoken about a lot of firsts this past year and it is still disturbing that an industry that sees itself as so progressive and liberal has this many firsts.  Straight out of Compton for example blew a number of things out of the water and received a lot of public acclaim but it was ignored as were many others.  In fact many of the films and leads that are honored and recognized don’t even resonate with many communities of color in terms of being films that they have patronized or gotten excited about during the past year.

We know it is business and apparently bigger business than we know and it is more than troubling that it has to be called out year after year.  And often there is public ridicule and some push back for the actors that speak up about it.  Very similar to athletes Hollywood celebrities are to be seen and not heard on issues that matter in terms of social justice and fairness.

Yes there is now a pledge to expand the board of the Academy and limit terms but why has it taken this long?  And even the recommended changes are being met with criticism as not being far reaching enough.

I am with you sometimes in that I want to escape and just enjoy a good movie without having to visit it through the lens of race and equity but like all things in this great society we are not in a vacuum and there is the need to recognize the talent and the contributions and the hard work that people of color are putting in.  And we all know that such recognition brings with it many more opportunities and opens even more doors.

So no praise for another film rolling out of the West Coast this month but rather a pause during this month of heritage to say we need to bring progress to Hollywood too.

Open the doors and we will step in.     Have a good month and please give it some thought and maybe watch something that you have been planning to catch up with for awhile!