In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, it’s Pony Boy who’s told to “stay golden” by the great Ralph Macchio, and it’s that same message that applies to the Oscars this year as the Motion Picture Academy battles outrage over the lack of diversity in this year’s list of acting nominations.
I can understand the disappointment, but the system is designed as a straight up vote by members, and if nominations were based initially on race wouldn’t that make it a different award? Like the Ebony Awards? I’m not being anti-anything, I’m just pro-voting based on merit for the Best Actor or Best Actress. Besides, I don’t know why anyone would want to be given an award that they know is based on race.
It’s like people complaining that there aren’t more white boxers or basketball players. Would it help to force a quota system on the World Boxing Association or the NBA to insure that? Absolutely not. Instead, let’s all agree that the best athletes should be in the ring or on the court. If there aren’t as many white athletes in those arenas now it doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. Forcing the matter, however, would send the wrong message.
This applies to the Academy Awards as well. During the last two movie cycles the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees have been white—so what? Maybe next year they’ll be all black or the year after all Hispanic. Wouldn’t it be less rewarding to get an award you might not have really earned simply because you received it in large part because you’re white, black, or Hispanic?
The Academy should not apologize and they should continue to back their system which is pretty straightforward. It’s a vote by members and you either win or lose, so why whine?
Besides, how would the complainers expect the Academy to fix the problem? Require a quota? Do we really want to turn the Academy Awards into an affirmative action program?
And it’s not like the Oscars have been overtly racist in the past. Quite the opposite, in fact. For example, the first Oscar given to an African-American was presented to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Now some might make something of the fact that she won for playing a slave, but the bigger story (especially then) was that during the Great Depression in a country still very segregated an Oscar was awarded to a black woman. This happened decades before the Civil Rights Movement even began. In fact, when McDaniel died in 1952, she wasn’t permitted burial in the cemetery of her choice because of segregation. That was the state of the country back then. In standing up and giving Hattie McDaniel the Oscar in the 1930’s, clearly the Academy was quite brave. So why did they do it? Probably because she deserved it, that’s why. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Even recently, the Academy ignored recognition of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Gone with the Wind (recognizing The Wizard of Oz instead) for fear that it would send a bad message the same year that Twelve Years A Slave won Best Picture. In doing that, they completely ignored recognition of the biggest grossing movie of all time. Does that sound like an organization that needs boycotting for somehow being racist?
Everyone complaining always has the option not to be an actor. Be a plumber or an insurance salesman instead. Oh sorry—you’ll probably be voted on by merit there, too. If the Academy folds on this issue, it’s their own fault for opening Pandora’s Box and throwing away decades of tradition. The Academy should keep everything the gold standard and not the black, white, yellow, green or whatever standard. It’s the Academy’s show so it should be their system. If people want to be sore losers, let them boycott by going to the local Applebee’s to have some cheese with their whine.
Fine. Don’t do movies. Don’t make millions. Don’t be waited on hand and foot by your assistants, agents, and publicists. Don’t pick up your Oscar goody bag with thousands of dollars of swag. Don’t get the best invitations to the best parties or the primo tables at all the best restaurants. Enjoy your pity party instead.
It doesn’t matter what color you are, you can bet the rest of the country sees red when they hear complaints from stars. I’ve seen the life actors live and it’s fabulous, especially for the big stars. They are talented or they wouldn’t be there, hence the reason they should not be complaining.
Recently, I was cast for a part in a movie. A few days ago, the initial agreement was reneged on and the alternative wasn’t what I wanted to do, so instead of complaining or suing or whining my way to a better deal, I just said “I’m out.” I certainly didn’t say they had to do what I want because I’m a woman or I’m a brunette or I’m white. It’s their movie and they can do what they want, and I simply choose not to be part of it.
Acting is a hobby for me, and I can take it or leave it. However, I’ve seen lots of “divas” around who have it very easy and still complain. Too bad they don’t just stop to realize what a wonderful life they’re having and that most people would be very thankful to trade places with them.
So boycott if that makes you feel better and don’t watch the Academy Awards. It doesn’t really matter because most people will be just fine watching without you.
As far as color goes, the only color that should matter at the Academy Awards is Oscar gold.