Tonight and what will be tomorrow morning for people at my part of the world, the 88th Academy Awards ceremony will take place. It’s a big circus for the film industry and related sectors. This year there has been quite some controversy because no actor of colour was nominated and therefor some actors of colour are boycotting the event. The host for the evening will be Chris Rock who is known for his sharp jokes on race, so it will be most interesting to see, what Mr. Rock will do with the platform he has to his disposal tonight.
Once Upon a Time
There was a time when I paid close attention the whole event called the Oscars and together with my thespian mates I made prognoses on who would win and we would scrutinise the acceptance speeches for any originality and depth. We knew it wasn’t always about the best performance or piece of work, yet it was important enough to lose sleep over, as we stayed up all night until we knew who had won best picture. With the latest media outcry in regards to the subject of diversity in Hollywood I started wondering: why would any so-called minority want a piece of the mainstream system pie, while that system is intrinsically corrupt and actually doesn’t serve that minority? With the system I’m not just referring to Hollywood’s film industry, but let’s just start with it.
What Hollywood Wants to Tell us
Film, or any other mass medium, is not just entertainment, it is information too. Films are stories told to a mass audience and somewhere, the emperor of Hollywood, whoever that person might be, decides which stories he finds important and these stories then shape the opinions and ideas of those who watch them. If actors, directors and producers tell stories that fit the idea that the emperor of Hollywood has about the world, and the telling of these stories is executed well, these actors, directors and producers are rewarded with work and perhaps even a prestigious awards. Black actors, directors and producers only seemed to win a prize like the Academy Awards if they tell a certain story. These stories are seldom, if ever, about strong, empowering and inspiring black people that could lift up the masses of any colour or creed. Denzel Washington, a very fine actor, played Steve Biko and Malcom X. For both roles he got nominated, but every insider knew he didn’t have a chance in hell, regardless of the competition. More recently British actor David Oyelowo was snubbed at both the Baftas and the Oscars after playing Martin Luther King in the film Selma in exquisite fashion. In 2002 director John Singleton should have won an Oscar for the powerful social drama Boyz in da Hood, if only ‘just’ for the screenplay, for which he was nominated as well. Now, you could argue that other actors and directors where just better and received the nomination or the actual award for that year. Yet, I can’t help but notice that black actors who do win an Academy Award, do so for certain roles and these roles are not of strong, empowering and inspiring characters. These roles are the story of maids (Hattie MacDaniel, Octavia Spencer), slaves (Denzel Washington, Lupita Nyong’o), crazy African dictators (Forest Withaker) crazy tricksters (Whoopi Goldberg), thuggish, corrupt cops (Denzel Washington) or poor downtrodden women (Halle Berry, Mo’nique). All these people told the stories of their characters very well, however, why is that these stories especially received the highest praise? If this ‘system’ only wants to tell these stories when it comes to’ black’ stories, then why exactly would you want to join this system? This question is not only valid for cinema and black people, but applies to all sorts of other pillars of society and other ‘minorities’.
Diversity My Arse
A lot of liberal lefties cry about diversity within the institutions of media, politics and government, science and academia and finance and banking. Yes, efforts are being made, yet, it comes down to the same stories being told. The story of the patriarchy, the story of white supremacy, the story of western superiority, the story of competition and hierarchy, the story of fear and scarcity and the story of coincidence, rather than conspiracy or divine plan. This is not the fault of the general straight, white, western male, as he is as much a victim as anyone else. I’m just wondering whether we should try to mend a corrupt system from within, or give the finger to it and build are own, where diversity is celebrated as different expression of oneness. Where cooperation rules, ‘cause competition is just so lame. Where government and politics is truly for and by the people. Where media genuinely inform, entertain and uplift us rather than just indoctrinate and scare us. The current system has been built by people who don’t give a shit and these people now and again make just enough adjustment so the dissatisfied don’t riot, but not quite that much that it undermines the corrupt system.
Tomorrow I’ll read online which nominees have won and how Chris Rock rocked the Kodak theatre. I will read it knowing that it’s all bollocks and we all, the Dark Fairy included, should pay far less attention to all the bollocks and far more to the reason behind the bollocks and how we can fix it.