When the Oscar noms are shared I generally pay more attention to things like cinematography and costume design; the categories I notice most in films. Then of course, I want to know if I’ve seen any of the films and are there any good documentaries I should pay attention to, then I scan the acting categories. Here unfortunately I must confess I don’t think about things like why are all of these white people? And really, shame on me for not noticing. When I first saw the New York Times article “Another Oscar Year, Another All White Ballot” I was ready to jump on the bandwagon of blaming the academy for not choosing actors, writers and directors of color. How DARE THEY!
But then- I started scanning over the films of 2015. Did you know there are only 5 black actors, 1 black actress and 1 Hispanic actor in all of Hollywood? Yep. Its true.
It seems that Michael Pena (who I think is a great actor and have written about in this blog) is enough actor to represent all of the Hispanic people. Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, and Chiwetel Eijiofor are all those black actors that are not Don Cheadle. Thank Goodness that Jada Pinkett Smith is versatile enough to be the second best friend and/or the hard kick ass chick, she has all those covered.
Yes ..I’m both sincere and sarcastic in this rant — I hold only myself responsible, in a I have no power but am complicit sort of way. If I am the audience and I don’t demand, through voice and dollar – that real stories with a variety of faces are seen and heard, who is to blame for what is on the screen? So ….I’m making a pledge to myself and to you readers: I will speak out, I will notice, I will actively participate. I want the movies and television I see to reflect what I think is important; All sorts of people.
I want female action heroes, I want fat people to exist other than as the butt of the joke, I want people of color to be SEEN; as real, as more than the purse snatcher or drug dealer or the comic relief best friend. If I am not as comfortable with a black storm trooper (I don’ t understand that reaction but many people where uncomfortable- that is very telling of our general attitude) – I want to be confronted with that discomfort and allow myself to acknowledge it and then actually see the film.
I want to be a person who notices, wait…..there are no films with LEAD black American actors/actresses and that just doesn’t seem right or real?? How is that even possible? Scan the posters for all films released in 2015, notice the people of color, the stories, the ideas. Become aware – not noticing is just as bad as not protesting it. Let’s not be complicit in this oddity- don’t white wash our American films and shrug it off. I for one, am not comfortable in my lack of attention to the disparities.