To Boycott or not to Boycott
When the 2015 Academy Award nominations became public, many of our readers wondered why I stood on the sidelines and did not protest the lack of diversity with the Oscar nods.
Never known to avoid controversial topics like racism, my silence baffled some.
Like many, I was stunned that David Oyelowo did not receive a Best Actor nomination for “Selma,” but I did not want to rush to judgment.
I held off because unlike in previous years, I did not see many of the performances nominated in 2015 because many of the nominated films did not fit the demographic of RegalMag.com.
However, 2016 is a totally new year, with a new set of circumstances.
I did see many of the nominated films as well as many of the snubbed films.
And this year, without a doubt, I can say that there is no way that actors like Will Smith (“Concussion”) and Jason Mitchell (“Straight Outta Compton”) should not have been nominated.
In addition, I firmly support Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee’s right not to attend the ceremony to draw attention to the lack of diversity.
However, I disagree with Pinkett Smith that Black actors do not need the validation of the Academy.
While it is obvious that Pinkett Smith knows way more than I could ever know about the industry, those nominations and awards sometimes can mean the difference from being just a working actor and a rising star.
And although many Black Academy Award winners like Lou Gossett, Jr. (“An Officer and a Gentleman”), Mo’Nique (“Precious”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) have not been bombarded with movie roles since their watershed moments, their victories certainly opened more doors for Black actors as a whole.
Furthermore, unlike some critics of the Oscars, I do not believe predominately Black award shows should be limited to Black talent.
I went on record a few years ago for saying that Justin Timberlake (“The 20/20 Experience”) and Robin Thicke (“Blurred Lines”) deserved NAACP Image Award nominations because they produced the best R&B albums that year.
But there is no way that the Oscars should be all White for the second year in a row.
A Black movie critic in his 30s made the aforementioned statement. One who does not always think a Black performer deserves an Oscar when he or she is nominated.
Unlike some in Black media, I did not cheer for Quvenzhane’ Wallis when she received an Oscar nod for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
I cheered for Jennifer Lawrence that year because she clearly delivered the best performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Likewise, this year I would not have cheered for Smith or Mitchell to win because I believe clearly that Leonardo DiCaprio slayed all competition with his performance in “The Revenant.”
I cheer for the best performance.
However, it seems Hollywood executives only cheer for the best White performance.
Like Oyelowo said last year, when Black actors win Oscars it is never as a strong and powerful character. It is usually as a subservient or stereotypical character like in films “The Help,” “Precious,” “Training Day” and “Monster’s Ball.”
There is no way Denzel Washington should have won an Oscar for playing a crooked cop in “Training Day” and not for his classic performance as the Nation of Islam leader in “Malcolm X.”
Shout out to rap group Three Six Mafia (because they made a song that related to the film “Hustle and Flow”) but there is no way they should have won an Oscar for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
Meanwhile, an inspirational hip-hop/R&B collaboration like Twista and Faith Evans’ “Hope” from the movie “Coach Carter” did not even receive a nomination the same year.
Luckily, the Academy atoned for its past snubs by awarding an Oscar to Common and John Legend for “Glory” last year.
The problem is a lack of diversity within the Academy.
According to The Atlantic, in 2014 the Oscar voters were 94 percent White, 76 percent male and the average age was 63-years-old.
Like all businesses, the entertainment industry suffers when their demographics do not represent the demographics in society as a whole.
When executives took over 10 years to make a sequel to “The Best Man,” they clearly missed out on a lot of money because no one in the executive suites could tell them how much of a cult classic that film was in the Black community.
Because of it they almost missed out on a blockbuster hit in “The Best Man Holiday.”
The demographics of this country are drastically changing, and if businesses, politicians and others do not get with the program they could find themselves in some serious trouble, especially financially.
Maybe Black talent and fans ignoring the Oscars is the proof they need to get their act together.