My Radio

My attempts to channel what's playing on the many stations of my mind

The Oscar Race

Posted by and1grad on March 11, 2010

I read an article, on Facebook, today that pissed me off so much that I HAD to do another blog this soon. It centers around the Academy Awards, using the recent wins/nominations of Mo’Nique and Gabby Sidibe as a backdrop to speak on the history of entertainment and how it impacts the African American community. Articles like this put me on edge from the beginning because I normally know exactly how they’re going to read. This one is no exception. Even on twitter, as I watched the awards, I could see these arguments brewing and people preparing to launch in about what a movie like Precious is saying about our culture. A lot of it I’m able to shrug off due to the person being either ill-informed or just plain ignorant but after a while it really just tapdances on my very last nerve.

The article in question, in no short terms, criticized essentially EVERY Oscar an African American has won, post-Brown v. The Board of Education, by claiming that they won for roles that are either simplistic or just plain demeaning. In sequential order, the list read as follows:  Portier, Gossett, Washington, Whoopi, Cuba, Halle, Washington, Foxx, Freeman, Whitaker, Hudson, and lastly Mo’Nique. No attempt to celebrate the scope of what these actors and actresses had achieved, which is simply, to be considered among the BEST in their profession that year. Rather than any sort of recognition, vilify them for even taking the role?

The article goes on to compare the fact that any of us might be glad for their success to other successes seen by wayward musicians and other elements of society that serve to poison our community. There is no DOUBT that the latter is an issue but comparing the aforementioned Academy Award winners to THAT is so fraudulent that the fact that anyone agreed, and some did, really infuriated me. Its shameful. Its intellectually dishonest and its viewpoints such as these that only serve to weaken our ability to gain a notable foothold in the industry. It cant possibly be lost on the movie industry that casting a Black person in a role of anything short of someone who is a saint, will lead to criticism from the Black community. Even when we WIN AWARDS, we criticize the role!! We take a day of achievement and turn it into a stain on our very society.

In comes Precious. Honestly, I’m not the biggest Mo’Nique fan. I find her incredibly annoying and unfunny. So obviously, I have my doubts about her acting but whatever. She won. Its a hell of an accomplishment and one that the overwhelming majority of people believe she earned. Add to that, an unknown newcomer, by the name of Gabby Sidibe, was nominated for the best actress. In her first major role. Hello. I mean…do you understand HOW RARE it is to be nominated for BEST ACTRESS in your FIRST major role? No? She is the 16th…out of 82 awards shows. It literally happens no more than 3 times a decade. She’s only the 5th since Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for this other film, that I’m apparently supposed to be ashamed of, called The Color Purple back in 1985. Its an UNBELIEVABLE achievement on its own. Only 4 have actually won. Oh, and by the way, the roles they won for werent all the very model of positivity.

Shirley Booth……………Come back Little Sheba
Julie Andrews…………..Mary Poppins
Barbara Streisand……..Funny Girl
Marlee Matlin…………..Children of a Lesser God

Substitute a Black actress into ANY of those roles and tell me that she wouldnt be criticized. The article went on to ask who really won on Oscar that night. In my opinion, Gabby did. Did you see what Oprah said for her when they were introducing the nominees? That itself was a major win. (scroll to 4:00 mins) Being in that kind of company as a newcomer…the sheer amount of publicity she’s gotten over the past few weeks. That is major.

I just hope the people who decide what movies get made weigh THAT over the opinions of those who cant seem to bring themselves to congratulate anyone for anything.


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