Many film critics have mused aloud whether already two-time Oscar winner Jennifer Laurence gets nominated in part just because Hollywood likes her. Lawrence — still only 25 — received her fourth nomination this year for best actress in her role in “Joy.” Regardless, black actors don’t seem invited to this chummy little club — in the past six years, they have only received four nominations IN TOTAL in the best actor and actress categories.
Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett, and Spike Lee are among several black actors who have announced they won’t attend this year’s Oscars. But what about white actors who claim to be champions of diversity? It’s interesting that industry favorites like Quentin Tarantino are so quick to stoke racial tensions, call cops racist, and support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when it comes to Hollywood’s own bigotry they are much quieter.
Oscar looks like it is stuck in an ugly, racist, segregated American time warp.
Perhaps in an effort to assuage their guilt, the Academy has again tapped Chris Rock to be the token minority host of the Oscars. But instead of tweeting that the Oscars were “The White BET Awards!” shouldn’t Rock be boycotting his hosting duties if he doesn’t want to appear complicit in Democrat-loving Hollywood racism? Reinforcing how tone-deaf the industry is on diversity, the Academy scheduled the awards show on February 28, 2016, at the end of Black History Month. The irony.
Yes, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy’s black president, said: “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. 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.”
But that would be more reassuring if Isaacs hadn’t promised the same thing last year. And adding three new governor seats to a board of 51, as was announced by the Academy on Friday, feels like too little and way too late.
Each year, blacks make about 195 million visits to movie theaters, spending an estimated $6.3 billion. Maybe if we started boycotting movies that aren’t diverse enough in their casting and storyline, Hollywood would feel the hit at the box office and start producing more movies featuring strong more positive black characters.
Sadly, in the past 87 years, less than 10% of Oscars for acting have been won by minorities. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Los Angeles Times, 94% of the Academy’s over 6,000 voting members were white, and 77% of them were white men, with an average age of 62.
Republican-dominated industries would not be allowed to get away with this. But Hollywood, known for lecturing benighted Republicans about their supposed bigotry and racism, is standing on a diversity sandcastle. Meanwhile, the Republican Party presidential field had more racial diversity — an Indian, an Africa-American and two Hispanics — than Hollywood managed in its acting nominees.
Just because Hollywood markets itself as a beacon of diversity doesn’t make it so. Like the Democrats who campaign as fighters for issues affecting black Americans, Hollywood’s true prejudice is obvious. Liberal Hollywood seems happy to make huge profits from blacks, but doesn’t want to invite us to the party.
When will blacks be fed up enough to change things? Angry complaints won’t fix a thing. Actions speak louder than words. Hollywood has shown it isn’t changing its ways, not by a long shot. It might be time to start hitting Hollywood in a place where it really cares — its wallet.