Once again, The Academy has pissed off America.
On Thursday, January 14th, 2016, talk of the 88th Academy Award nominations flooded the internet, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became a trending topic. Each and every person nominated in the four acting categories: Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actress and Actor, is white. You’d think after breaking the internet once last year for the same exact reason, Hollywood would learn from their mistakes.
It was a great year for movies, and it was a diverse year. Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Beasts of No Nation and Concussion were all excellent examples of filmmaking at its best. Emotionally moving with a great screenplay and of course, brilliant acting all around. These things are usually what gets the attention of The Academy – or most certainly what should get their attention – but of course, the colored actors and directors of these films have been completely ignored. While Sylvester Stallone gets a nod for Best Supporting Actor in Creed, Michael B. Jordan, who has been continuously praised for his breakthrough leading role, has been snubbed.
And though The Academy did recognize Straight Outta Compton by nominating the films (white) writers for Best Original Screenplay, the brilliant actors portraying rap legends Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre have been neglected. Based on the superb filmmaking and acting, Straight Outta Compton was also projected to receive a nod for Best Picture, but of course that didn’t happen either. With the major players of Hollywood being made up of mostly white men, should we even be surprised anymore? The lack of representation for the second year in a row is blatantly purposeful, and the black Hollywood community is speaking up.
Ice Cube made a guest appearance on the Wendy Williams Show on Thursday morning to promote his newest flick, Ride Along 2, and he was asked about Straight Outta Compton being snubbed by The Academy. He answered, “I’m not pissed. I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars. They do what they do. The people loved the movie. The people supported the movie. No. 1 at the box office. Over $200 million worldwide. I can’t be mad. We are baffled at The Academy’s choices this year, but then again – of course we would be.”
While Ice Cube stayed more positive in his response, other celebrities have expressed deep disappointment. Among the celebrities who have spoken out are Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee, Rashida Jones, Don Cheadle and Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer. Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee have both publicly announced that they will not be attending the show, nor will they be watching from home. Smith took to Facebook to ask, “Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power.”
Smith goes on to say that at the Oscars, “people of color are always welcomed to give out awards, even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments.”
Smith’s sentiments hit the nail on the head. Her reference to people of color being at the show to “entertain” also include Chris Rock, who will be hosting the event. Even Rock tweeted a promo video of the show along with the words: “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”
Producer Will Packer also used Facebook to give his opinion. He wrote, “To my #OscarsSoWhite folks who are angry at the absurd lack of diversity highlighted yet again by this year’s Oscar noms. Trust me, I get it…To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat – it’s embarrassing.”
The non existence of black actors in this years Oscars is certainly a blatant example of exclusivity that Hollywood refuses to give up. But we shouldn’t just be talking about this problem once a year, and it isn’t just about race. Women directors are rarely hired for big studio directing jobs, because for all of time, men have dominated the industry. Actresses are continuously discriminated for their age and lose hiring opportunities once they turn 30, whereas male actors can act forever. Rarely are women at the forefront of Hollywood movies, and too often do women serve as mere accessories to men. This trend is getting much better, as recently evident with Daisy Ridley’s kick-butt role in the latest installment of Star Wars, but this is still a huge issue that needs much work.
There is one film on the horizon that will provide the diversity everyone is seeking. 10 Days In A Madhouse, based on the true story of adventurer, journalist, and overall inspirational woman Nellie Bly, is a celebration of women, an ode to female empowerment.
When was the last time you watched a period piece that wasn’t a love story? That didn’t have a female character pining for a man? 10 Days In A Madhouse is anything but that. The film is set in 1887 and follows 23-year old Nellie Bly as she courageously risks her life to infiltrate a notorious women’s insane asylum. The film has a cast of over 90% women, the plot points are advanced by women, and the main heroine is a heroine despite the fact that she doesn’t have a man by her side. The positive message that this film hopes to make is a big one. The critics have raved over 10 Days in a Madhouse, “Stunning!” says The New York Times, Ms. Magazine called it a “Must See Movie!” “Awesome, Incredible” – Popcorn Talk Network. “Demands To Be Watched!” Bust Magazine.
As blacks, Latinos, Asians, and women, our journey is harder, and our struggle to be represented continues. But as Jada Pinkett Smith says, true power comes from accepting and respecting our own. 10 Days In A Madhouse director Timothy Hines would agree, as he has been quoted in interviews saying that nothing will stop him from making inspirational movies that are about and feature minorities, even though he knows he will be continually challenged by white Hollywood to do otherwise.
You can follow 10 Days In A Madhouse at http://www.10daysinamadhouse.com, on Facebook, Twitter, IMDB and Instagram.
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