I was very dismayed with the 88th Academy Awards show last night. Chris Rock (who I typically enjoy) dragged us back decades it’s his not-so-tongue-in-cheek complaining about black people and their absence in this year’s nominations. Even worse, he took us to Compton to stir up dissent, once even asking “Are you smack-a-white-man mad?” to moviegoers who hadn’t even watched any of the best picture/actor/actress nominations (maybe they deserved their nominations…they’ll never know).
But for a few songs, there was little in the way of entertaining numbers (which left me desperately longing for last year’s Common/John Legend performance), no honorary awards … only complaining, complete with very inappropriate toe-the-line-racist statements about Asians.
Here was an amazing opportunity to discuss the incredibly diverse group of actors — men and women, per Chris Rock, and I would agree, we don’t need both categories (though I like the diversity) — that have permeated Hollywood for decades from all ethnic backgrounds, and even been celebrated, nominated, and awarded with full recognition.
Omar Sharif (2 Golden Globes, one Oscar nomination)
Anthony Quinn (2 Oscars)
Sidney Poitier (taking an Oscar and crossing BOLD lines in the midst of the Civil Rights era)
Rita Moreno (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony!!)
Actors so diverse — whom I rarely consider the color of their skin except when the part demands it (i.e. Morgan Freeman in Glory, Amistad) — they take roles originally written as white characters:
Denzel Washington (Pelican Brief)
Tyler Perry (Gone Girl)
Samuel Jackson (Avengers/Nick Fury)
Michael B Jordan (Human Torch)
Or that could go to anyone:
Benicio Del Toro
… and the list goes on …
Alejandro Iñáritu, winner of Best Director for Revanant said it SO well in the most poignant statement made at the ceremony last night:
“What a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and make sure for once and forever that the color of your skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.”
We’ll never truly appreciate our diversity until we are able to more effectively celebrate our unity.
I hope for more from all of us next year.