Thank goodness #OscarsSoWhite has sparked a much-needed conversation about representation, visibility and power on the Big Screen.
And thanks to the advocacy from outspoken folks such as Jada Pinkett-Smith, Will Smith, Spike Lee, Lupita Nyong’o and Viola Davis, we have seen the Oscars create a new academy policy and non-people of color like George Clooney and Marc Ruffalo standing up in solidarity. But not everyone wants to hold hands and recite “I Have a Dream” together.
In the past few days white celebs, mostly from Europe, have been making some pretty questionable and tone-deaf comments about diversifying the whiteness of Hollywood.
First is veteran English actress Charlotte Rampling. The 85-year old Best Actress nominee for 45 Years said that to boycott the Oscars for it being “so white” is in turn actually racist against white people, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list… These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ … someone will always be saying ‘You are too’ [this or that] … But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”
Rampling definitely needs to read some Angela Davis and Malcolm X to understand that white people do not experience racism, they enforce it on others.
Second up was Oscar-winner Michael Caine who told BBC Radio 4 that perhaps Black Hollywood needs to temper its expectations.
“There’s loads of black actors. You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good [performances]…Be patient. Of course, it will come. Of course, it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar,” he said.
No one is asking for the Oscars to be an affirmative action program, but perhaps it should be. That and it’s unsure how much more patient African-Americans (and other people of color) need to be given the Academy’s shameful 88-year history of overlooking Black excellence.
Think: Spike Lee had to wait 25 years to win an Honorary Oscar for his body of work, not one Black female filmmaker has been nominated for Best Director and only three of the 15 Black actors and actresses to win an Oscar did so by being directed by a Black director (Denzel Washington for Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day, Mo’nique for Lee Daniel’s Precious and Lupita Nyong’o for Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave).
But yes, patience and waiting quietly is the path to real progress, said no one in the history of civilization.
And finally, the French-American Oscar-nominated writer and director Julie Delpy from Before Sunset fame recently said at the Sundance Film Festival that being a female director means being “muzzled” and that she’d rather be “an African-American” because they are essentially treated better.
“Two years ago, I said something about the Academy being very white male, which is the reality, and I was slashed to pieces by the media. It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African-American because people don’t bash them afterward.”
For starters, this isn’t the Oppression Olympics and we are all very clear that all women in Hollywood are grossly discriminated against, passed over or not even considered for jobs and treated horribly on and off set. And yes, Black men (who I am assuming she is referring to) do have male privilege, but that doesn’t trump race. We live in a society that kills unarmed Black people for selling loose cigarettes, asking for help and having Skittles in their pocket, but somehow Hollywood is exempt from that attitude that Black lives don’t matter? We all feeling being pushed out. Stop it.
Most important, not all the Blacks are men and not all of the women are white. So who is erasing who?
With the Oscars almost five weeks out and this topic not go away any time soon, we are confident that more white celebrities will feel the need to get defensive and talk sideways about complex issues of race, gender and identity only proving the point that Hollywood really is as racially insensitive and clueless as we think it is.