Wednesday 20 January 2016

This is for my support group...

The next chapter in the story of all-must-have-prizes features Hollywoodland, Spike Lee and a frankly pitiful strop at the paucity of Oscar nominations and the total lack of awards for ‘actors of colour’. Part of the problem is we have no idea what to even call performers with a darker complexion any more, still less whether or not we would be thought patronising to praise them or give them awards. Can’t they just be, you know, actors, without the former-slave chips on their shoulders? Anyway, don’t our dusky cousins have plenty of their own whites-not-welcome events, awards and self-pity groups?

The apparent slight is compounded of course by the fact that one of the sisters is in charge. You may have thought that if it was such a big deal Academy President, Cheryl Bone Idle might have fought their corner, although she did put out a statement:

"While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”

‘Inclusion’ of course and always only applies to BME luvvies. You whites, you get all the best roles. God, for instance (Oh wait, Morgan Freeman.) Time for big changes, you say? Maybe a big change could be to stop making pictures with a blacks-only theme and white-racially-exclusive storylines? Just a thought. Cheryl continued...

"The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond ... we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly."

Why? Why diversity – which, by the way never includes whites in any field? Diverse always means visibly different. Hey, maybe people don’t necessarily want to watch visibly different, preferring to favour ‘familiar’, ‘comfortable’ and even just, you know ‘great actors’ and plots which don’t have a convoluted social message to convey? Just, you know, a thought...

We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together."

Why can’t ‘moving forward’ mean ‘suck it up and get better at it’? Now, of course, Hollywood is rending its collective garments and weeping and gnashing its teeth and wondering how to bend over backward to reward mediocrity without it being too obvious. A special black Oscar section, along the lines of Best Supporting Actor (or, as we all know it, ‘also-ran’) maybe? Why do supposedly proud black heritage actors want the sympathy and pity of inferior, pasty, white folk anyway?

A famous black actor speaks out

When Halle Berry got her statuette and made that awful speech I can’t be the only person who suddenly looked at her differently and thought, “She’s black? I hadn’t really noticed.”
Any black person who henceforth receives an Oscar will be regarded as having got it through affirmative action and the imposition of quotas. The Oscars were already as questionable, merit-wise, as the New Year Honours List but now... The default position for all those second-raters who convince themselves that they are discriminated against is to take away the ball. So, thanks Spike, Jada Pinkett-Smith et al, for demanding a consolation prize and turning the Oscars into America’s Got Talent.

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