#OscarsSoWhite and the need for black representation

#OscarsSoWhite and the need for black representation

#OscarsSoWhite and the need for black representation
January 21
02:05 2016

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer

@presto_mitch

Last week, the Academy Awards nominated 20 white actors and excluded many acclaimed black entertainers for two years in a row. The resulting chagrin sparked the resurgence of the “#OscarsSoWhite” hashtag, criticizing the Academy for being too out-of-touch to recognize diversity in film.

Making matters worse was Spike Lee, a controversial filmmaker in his own right, boycotting the Oscars’ lack of black accolades.

While the hashtag itself is another nonsensical Twitter movement, it is true that Hollywood needs to represent blacks better.

Two of 2015’s best films were “Straight Outta Compton” and “Beasts of No Nation.” Despite being a Netflix endeavor, most critics recognized the cinema-like perfection of “Beasts.” In fact, the biggest Oscar snub in terms of nomination was that of Idris Elba. His performance in the film gave a disturbingly paternal quality to his role as a child soldier leader.

The lack of Elba-love is even more peculiar upon looking at the actual best supporting actor list. Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo and Sylvester Stallone were all outstanding in their respective films. While Mark Rylance was great in “Bridge of Spies,” his performance doesn’t measure up to that of Idris Elba—Rylance could’ve easily been replaced.

With regard to “Straight Outta Compton,” movies released during the summer season are rarely nominated for best picture. However, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a May action movie whose unprecedented vehicular stunts and powerful female lead character in Furiosa earned it such a nomination. Also notable is the inclusion of “The Martian,” another excellent blockbuster that grossed nearly $600 million in its run.

That said, the lack of “Compton” admiration is perplexing. F. Gary Gray successfully crafted a music biopic more similar to Scorsese-gangster films than the “Ray” and “Walk the Line” mold that everyone was accustomed to. Best of all, it re-popularized N.W.A. and boasted amazing performances of its own. Therefore, only nominating it for original screenplay is doing the film a disservice.

In conclusion, it all boils down to the weak representation of African-Americans in film. Nominating “Selma” for best picture but not for best director was already a robbery. But continuing that trend at cinema’s most prestigious award show is why Kevin Hart and Marlon Wayans keep making lowbrow entertainment.

Without the Oscars honoring the truly great black films, fewer moviegoers will pay for those films and will use that finance toward the nonsense that they’re already used to.

It’s all mathematics. The Academy just needs to catch up to the product.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Artarius Media Twitter page

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