|(From l. to r.) Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Inarritu, and Ang Lee|
Of course, we haven’t considered the fact that many of these films were also deemed extremely problematic, both before and after their release. Can you solve one problem (lack of Oscar diversity) by appealing to problematic art?
Let’s go through some of the snubbed pictures and see how socially conscious types addressed them during their release:
Chi-Raq is the latest Spike Lee joint; I reviewed it here. It’s a modern retelling of Lysistrata set on the streets of Chicago, where the gal pals of gang leaders refuse to give it up for their men whilst bodies are still dropping. Many people are rallying to Spike Lee’s side after he called out the Academy for its problematic lack of “flava” (his word, not mine). Of course, Chi-Raq itself was deeply problematic, as was a song tied to the film’s release:
Titled “WGDB”—We Gotta Do Better—it’s an ode to black pathology, anchored by two opinions. The first is that black-on-black gun violence is something that occurs because blacks widely approve of or ignore it, which means it still needs repudiating. The second is that maybe if black people just had more self-respect, the cops whose salaries black people pay would treat them nicer, shoot and/or jail them less, and so on. These are both bad and dumb opinions.So let’s say Spike Lee’s film gets a bunch of nominations in the acting categories. What do the think pieces look like then? “Oh, sure, the Academy loves rewarding films that blame black people for all their own problems! #smdh #outrage” (read the whole thing)