Xenophobia Alive and Well at the 87th Academy Awards
Wednesday, Mar. 18th, 2015 (3203 views)
he recent salary leak of Sony Pictures Entertainment demonstrated the inequality between gender and race; as fifteen of the seventeen executives appear to be Caucasian males. Wall Street banking is more diversified than a major film studio. It should be of little surprise that Hollywood itself is grappling with the lack of diversity, and white privilege dominated the 87th annual Oscars.
The vast majority of Academy members
are Caucasian males in the their sixties. These lifelong members decide who will receive the highest honors in the film industry. Candidates who would like to become members of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must be sponsored by two Academy members and then vetted by the Board of Directors. Over the years the entrance standards have been tightened so only the most desirable citizens are allowed to join.
This year nominees and winners showcased the xenophobia and racist attitudes of the Academy. For the first time in almost two decades, out of 20 nominations in the acting genre, not a single minority was nominated. 7 out the 8 films nominated for Best Picture showcased the white man's struggle. While the movie Selma
was nominated for best picture and the best original song, none of the cast, crew or director, saw their names on the ballot cards.
Antonio Sanchez’s percussive drum score for Birdman
was rife with controversy. It too did not receive a nomination even though, it had won numerous critical awards. The Academy Awards’ lack of representation of minorities did not go unnoticed by the public. In the aftermath of the nominations, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on social media.
It was not shocking Selma
did not win Best Picture. At the December screening for the movie, the cast wore "I can’t breathe" T-shirts, in support of unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers. This public display of acknowledging police brutality against black men, had rubbed some Oscar voters the wrong way. One voter stated
"I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying, ‘I can’t breathe’ — I thought that stuff was offensive. Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up shit?"
Once a year the Hollywood elite come together for an extravagant night of awards and parties to celebrate the "best" in the business. The in-depth coverage is televised around the world and the MSM dissecting every detail. There is over a week of coverage for this one event, from the designer dresses women are going to wear to the best and worst dressed of the evening. Yet, the civil rights movement was largely forgotten for glitz and glamour.
While there were some very political speeches about immigration and women rights, it was not until John Legend and Common's acceptance speech for the Best Original Song, that civil rights were mentioned. Even when Sean Penn blatantly made a racist
comment on stage, it was laughed off as a "joke" by others. Yes, the same guy who was charged with felony domestic assault for abusing his wife and has abundance of convictions for violent behavior.
A protest by the public over the lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees were cancelled at the request of "Selma" director Ava DuVernay. It seems that keeping the status quo of Hollywood is the number one priority. The public is more outraged by the white privilege than the people directly affected by it. African American celebrities did not boycott the Awards show for the blatant snub and under representation of minorities. Nor did they discuss the civil rights issues that is taking place across the nation. This was one night where everyone knew their roles, white men can make racist jokes and black people wear designer clothes, smile and look pretty.
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