The 2016 Oscar Nominations: #OscarsSoWhite and the Issue of White Guilt

This was going to be a post about the 2016 Oscar Nominations, my thoughts and who/what I want/think deserves to win. There’s only really one person who deserves an Oscar for his contribution to film and that’s Leonardo DiCaprio, I haven’t even seen The Revenant (not til 17th Jan) but he deserved it way before now so that’s that. Everything else pales in comparison compared to the issue of diversity in Hollywood.

#Hollywood #OscarNoms #OscarsSoWhite #WhiteGuilt

The lack of diversity in Hollywood made the headlines last year with both Selma Director and cast snubbed despite critical acclaim and the same has happened this year. To suggest the milquetoast academy didn’t learn it’s lesson last year would be an understatement; and that’s not just an excuse to use my new favourite word. Milquetoast, not understatement.

You see, Hollywood often finds itself in the spotlight; lack of originality, cash hoarding, a famous ex-sitcom star suffered a fashion faux pas on the red carpet. But these trivial matters are frequently placed at the top of the priority pile because they’ll generate the most buzz with next to no controversy whatsoever. However, had it not been for the tragic death of Alan Rickman earlier today, of David Bowie earlier in the week, or the fact that the transfer window is open my tailored trends would no doubt be showing #OscarsSoWhite at the top of my list.

The Oscar nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress are white all white.

But whacking an octothorpe (or #; look it up) in front of OscarsSoWhite makes me no less a supporter of Hollywood diversity than it does punctuate my white guilt. As a consumer of film I’m both party to, and, the target audience of Hollywood programming choices and this disturbs me somewhat so I’d like to pose a question as an example.

What got the most attention Django Unchained‘s Oscar success, or, the amount of times the ‘n’ word is spoken? ~ The answer is of course, 113.

Courtesy of Thumbs & Ammo

Watering down this sort of Hollywood cross-dressing, nervously laughed at by white theatre patrons, quietly endured by ethnic minorities, and outright resented by African-Americans doesn’t make it cool. Yet, while I love Quentin Tarantino for his creativity, his unerring vision and his way with words I can no longer justify this abuse of power nor ignore the blatant impunity afforded by his Hollywood status.

Of course this, for once, is not all about QT. I’m sure if I was to address this issue with Mr Tarantino face-to-face he’d be the first to defend his position and that of African-Americans in his films and non-whites in cinema. But I digress. Academy members and representatives should be using their positions as leading Hollywood names to front the charge toward diversity, not defending themselves behind a wall of silence and indifference.

To set the record straight I’m not saying that diversity should be recognised for diversity’s sake. Just because Idris Elba was great in Beasts of No Nation should not automatically put him in contention for an Oscar because of the colour of his skin. That being said, simply claiming there is a lack of non-white representation to justifiably choose from will never find a firm foundation underfoot so long as films such as Beasts, Creed, and Straight Outta Compton are receiving their just desserts from critics and moviegoers around the world.

Clarisse Loughrey makes this exact point and more, elaborating that only 8 out of 10 Best Picture slots were filled. I’m not saying throw a nom at CreedBeasts, or Compton for the sake of filling two slots but given their commercial and critical success surely they deserved to be on that list?

Whether you agree with the elitism of the Academy Awards and all the glitz and glam that goes with it or not, this issue goes beyond the Oscars, deep into Hollywood and, even to some extent, society as a whole.

Until Hollywood becomes more accepting of diversity in film from writers, directors, producers, and actors there’s little chance that the 2017 Academy Awards will avoid the same controversy. Let’s hope I’m wrong, let’s hope diversity is given a chance to flourish amongst the elite and catalyse a significant shift in attitude, let’s hope the Oscars become less about shiny golden statuettes and more about the advancement of the arts and sciences of film that it readily defends yet shamelessly ignores.


3 thoughts on “The 2016 Oscar Nominations: #OscarsSoWhite and the Issue of White Guilt

  1. Very interesting commentary. It seems like the Oscars are getting all the blame for the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    Should actors be boycotting the studios? Wait, they aren’t making dramas ;) Looks like Hollywood has a few massive issues to deal with. A major one is representing the audience, but there’s a larger picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the larger picture goes beyond simply the academy choosing an almost all white roster. It boils down to Hollywood decision making regarding what films actually get made and recognising what audiences actually want to see

      Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s