By Carlito Gilchrist, contributing writer
As human beings we were granted with the ability to create. From breaking out of the hard chains of nature, we were able to breed a new form of expressionist grandeur; art. Along the way, humans have had to look at themselves and come to terms with differences over the years.
From feminism, to civil rights, and recently gay marriage, humans have accomplished Demi-God level feats. Now, after the Great Depression, after WWII, and after 9/11, where humans have had to come together the most, we humiliate ourselves on one of the most respected nights in TV history.
The great art of filmmaking has existed over the last century and has been conquered by itself over and over again. What people can collaboratively make together now is a miracle accomplished solely by our minds and wits. Yet, now in 2016, we let our eyes and our emotions get in the way still. I just watched the 88th Academy Awards end just two hours ago, and as I write this at 2 in the morning I find that I can’t sleep.
When I first heard about the controversy around no black actors being nominated for the second year in a row, I thought, “Here we go. Another problem that shouldn’t be a problem.” And then I realized that Chris Rock was going to be the one to host this year and then a brain child knocked on my head and said, “Hey, he’s got this.” Well I’ve never been more wrong in my life.
As nauseating as it was to watch Chris Rock talk about the problem with no black actors being recognized for about 4 hours, it was an atrocity for him to interview people and discriminate just for the purpose of a good joke. Especially on such a well classed and respectful night, Rock had to taint it with his terrible humor that he should’ve left back in the 90’s.
“What was your favorite white person movie?” He asked too many regular movie goers, and this didn’t seem a problem? That question just shows right there that we still are unable to live for what Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Ray Charles, Barry Gordon, Sidney Poitier and many, many, many more stood for. The Oscars was turned from a ceremony to recognize the greatest artists of the 21st century, to a commercialized event on racism in Hollywood.
The issue with all this is that there always has to be something, somebody, or some reason that a race issue needs to be talked about and when it’s talked about it creates issues that no one seems to want to get past. So, in order for us to get passed it, we have to ruin a night that many people look forward to watching. Let’s just say for instance that the Superbowl, or the World Series, or any other major sporting event has to be ruined by a white vs. black battle; that the sole reason for the event isn’t about the players, or how hard they worked in their careers, the sacrifices they made, the time and effort they put in for your satisfaction; it’s about a race issue that shouldn’t even be an argument.
Would you or anyone else be upset or ashamed that we have to put aside a night where people of every skin color can come together in friendly competition and make it a “me vs. you because I’m white and your black kind of night”? Then why should it be okay for the arts? Art is supposed to bring people together, like sports, and this is how we have to celebrate it?
So, if the black community of Hollywood desperately wants a pity nomination to make things fair for everyone and snub someone else of their hard work because we need at least one black actor, one white, one Latino, one Asian, and one gay actor so no one has their feelings hurt, then so be it. Forget the talent and skill, just focus on the skin color, because that’s exactly what Dr. King wanted in his “I have a dream speech”. So, thank you to everyone else who decided that we can’t just be people, we have to be children arguing in the playground.
Now, I personally would have been more satisfied with the nominations if Jason Mitchell, the man who portrayed the late Eric Wright, A.K.A. Eazy-E in F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, had been recognized for something. But, did I look at that as a snub because he’s black? Of course not. I did see it as an opportunity to recognize a new up and coming actor who definitely has some skill and ability.
Now, Mad Max, a type of film that never gets the Academy’s attention as it deserves did break that barrier. Straight Outta Compton, could have easily been a better candidate for best picture, rather than Joy or The Danish Girl. Then again, that’s just my opinion as a lover of cinema. All I ask for others to remember to judge upon is the work – the hardship, and the creativity. Not the color of skin. White, black, brown, it doesn’t matter. In the end, all that matters is the talent.
United We Stand.
Divided We Fall.