Monday, February 1, 2016

Mike's Musings: Hashtag Oscars So White?

Admittedly, I'm a little late to the party for writing this review, but, as they say, better late than never.

There's been a lot of controversy this year over the fact that all the acting nominees this year are white.  Boycotts were made.  Questions where raised about whether Chris Rock would still host the event (he is, but he will mention the backlash in one of his monologues).

Many are blaming the Academy for not recognizing actors and filmmakers of color this year.  For example, Will Smith was considered a lock for his performance in "Concussion," which he should have gotten instead of Bryan Cranston.  Cranston has never impressed me with his acting abilities, but he's still riding the "Breaking Bad" waves and he portrayed a Hollywood legend that got screwed over by McCarthyism.  That it received mediocre reviews and essentially vanished from screens without anyone seeing it only adds salt to the wound).

The Academy, which has a history of boneheaded decisions and controversies, isn't blameless, but pegging them as a hoitey-toitey villain is a shallow simplification of reality.  If Hollywood wants to know who to blame, they've got to look at themselves.

A big part of the reason there were no black nominees is because there weren't a lot of options.  Most roles are played by white actors because studio executives won't cast them.  White leads have worked in the past, and no one wants to take any chances, especially now that all movies have seemingly become monster budgeted behemoths.  Will Smith's breakout role in "Independence Day" was written for a white actor, but Roland Emmerich fought hard to cast him.  It was a risk that paid off tremendously and led Smith to earn the nickname "Mr. July."

It is ironic that studios are so fearful of casting non-white actors in lead roles, especially in today's globalization of the film industry.  World audiences are big now (China especially), which should present more opportunities for minority actors and filmmakers.  "Furious 7" had a diverse cast and it passed $1.5 billion at the box office.  Many considered its diversity to be a factor in its success.  And who can forget about Tyler Perry, who has essentially opened the floodgates for the African-American market.

So minority actors want to act and audiences want to see them.  All that's left is for the studios to stop being so risk averse and open up some doors.

No comments:

Post a Comment