A classic case of damn if you do, damn if you don't
WFB: For the second year in a row, no actors of color have been nominated for an Academy Award. As a result of this travesty, the Academy Awards—an organization that has awarded the following men
|(From l. to r.) Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Inarritu, and Ang Lee|
the last three Oscars for best directing, by the way—has again been slammed with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. People are very upset! There are so many strong movies with heavily black* casts, films like Chi-Raq and Beasts of No Nation. Why weren’t they rewarded?
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)