Oscars Scandal

Brianna Thomas

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Following the nomination of 20 white actors for the Academy Awards, renowned African Americans, like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, announced they will not attend the Oscars on February 28, 2016 due to racial discrimination and lack of inclusion. But will this change anything? My answer is no because this likely won’t change discrimination based on race in Hollywood or in America. Lee stated, “We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends,” here Lee is stating that we can no longer support this discrimination that is taking place within Hollywood, and that it’s time to step up and be the leaders we want to see throughout the world. It is very ironic that no Blacks were nominated for an Oscar award, meanwhile there were many significant Black actors and actresses who had monumental roles in many movies which should have been considered for nominations. For example, Chi-Raq, Straight outta Compton and many more movies. However, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation was ineligible for any nominations because, although it received great reviews, due to the movie being released on Netflix, it did not meet the theatrical release requirement.

In Reponse to the lack of minority’s being nominated for an Oscar Jada Pinkett Smith voiced her opinions through a video. Within Jada Pinkett Smith’s video, she is calling for action and wants the Black people to understand the mistreatment occurring. Jada Pinkett Smith feels that many movies starring Black actors were snubbed including Concussion in which her husband was a lead actor. In the video, Mrs. Smith says, “we can no longer beg for love, acknowledgement or respect of any group.” Clearly referring to the Academy, she believes something must be done about it, which is why she and her family are boycotting this year’s Oscars ceremony. Although her stance on this issue may be biased due to her husband not being nominated, her video encourages others to talk and bring awareness to long-standing discrimination in the American film industry.

In response to Jada Pinkett Smith’s video, Janet Hubert, also known as Aunt Viv from the popular 90’s TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, released her own video, in which she combated many statements Smith expressed. She makes a strong argument when she says, “And the second thing is, girlfriend, there’s a lot of [mess] going on in the world that you all don’t seem to recognize,” Hubert says, “People are dying, our boys are being shot left and right. People are hungry, people are starving, and people are trying to pay bills and you talking about some…actors and Oscars. It just ain’t that deep.” Janet Hubert seemed bitter as she was saying whatever she wanted without a filter and speaking whatever came to her mind though it may have been harsh from the rough words and stringent attitude. But, in spite of her bitterness, she made very good essential points like stating how there are more important things happening throughout the world to worry about then the Oscars, stating how you can’t always win something and even talking about how Will Smith wasn’t even deserving a nomination because his role in Concussion was not that well played.

Personally, I really don’t care about the Oscars simply because it doesn’t entertain me and I don’t like movies, so normally I wouldn’t have an opinion about an awards show. But in this case, I do not think boycotting is the right thing to do because what does that actually achieve? Yes, this is bringing awareness to the issue, but it doesn’t make the change you are expecting to see. Boycotting is making the issue worse for you are not congratulating your colleagues who have been awarded and have worked hard for the award they like many others work so hard to achieve. Therefore, I agree with Ms. Cheryl Boone Isaacs the Academy’s President when she states “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.” The Academy has agreed to getting a more diverse board which represents the whole Hollywood community and doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020. Therefore, since the root of this problem is the demographics of people voting for the nominations these changes may help deserving minorities in the future have a fair shot at the nominations and honor they so rightly deserve. In many ways I do feel that if there was equality in Hollywood this would set a precedent for the rest of the country as people always follow Hollywood and look up towards them as heroes/role models. So if equality is expressed within Hollywood it would set an example else where and throughout America.

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