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The Academy Awards

I watched the Oscars this year, as I do most years.  My wife likes to watch them, and I kind of like to keep up with some popular culture.

This year the focus was on how none of the nominees, for the second year in a row, were black.  The irrebutable presumption was that black actors had deserved nominations.  I have no idea whether that was true.

The Oscars reacted to the charge of racism the way all liberal institutions, including the universities, do.  They engaged in a parade of self criticism, promised to do better, and then moved on.  There was no discussion at all about whether the lack of black nominations was deserved.

The one exception to this was the black host, Chris Rock, who directed his barbs in all directions, not only at the alleged racism of Hollywood, but also at the fact that rich actors were worried about nominations when real people had real problems.  Rock’s performance stood in stark contrast to the remainder of the show.  Presumably, Rock could get away with it because he was black.

While the show went on and on about how Hollywood should reflect America and the diversity it encompasses, as usual the focus was solely on racial diversity.  When it came to political diversity, the show was clueless.

Climate change, transgender activism, sexual assaults on campus, Democratic politicians and a host of other liberal causes were on parade all night.  The possibility that half of the country might disagree was never considered.

This is nothing new, of course – at the Oscars or on college campuses or any other place that is dominated by liberals or the left.  Do these people realize that their actions have some relationship to the rise of Trump?

Is there anything to be done about it?  That’s hard to know.  If conservatives were to protest the matter – if they were to publicly point out the hypocrisy of the academy – would they be heard?  It is not clear they would.  But even if they were heard, would it be worth the effort?  Are the Academy Awards important enough to merit this level of action?  My guess is that the show matters more than one might otherwise think – not entirely by itself, but as part of the relentless assault of the liberal culture.

Reader Discussion

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on March 01, 2016 at 10:46:47 am

"There was no discussion at all about whether the lack of black nominations was deserved"
----- Saw a statistic the other day (can't vouch for its accuracy, but..) Taken the last 20 years, the top four Awards went to blacks 12.5% of the time - approx black population = 12.6%

"The possibility that half of the country might disagree was never considered"
----- wonderful little business they have in Hollywood. what other industry can willfully disregard half of its' potential audience and a) survive and b) feel so damn good about themselves?

But even if they were heard, would it be worth the effort?
-----No! see response to 2nd quoted comment - they don't give a damn;
And why, you may ask - well see next quoted comment:

"...but as part of the relentless assault of the liberal culture."

Why in the world anyone watches this self-congratulatory, self aggrandizing, self promoting bowl of pablum is quite simply beyond me. I would much prefer to attend an award ceremony for the local plumbers union's apprenticeship program. At least they do clean things up it bit!!!

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gabe
on March 01, 2016 at 11:36:18 am

The irrebutable presumption was that black actors had deserved nominations. I have no idea whether that was true.

Well said! This pretty much perfectly illustrates the failure to get the point.

Rather, I understand the argument to be about the number and variety of parts offered to black actors – which may reflect limitations in the minds of writers (“When creating a role of a wizard, why default to making it a white wizard?”) or casting directors (“When casting the role of Hermione Granger, why assume the character is white?”).

Bias at these early stages will systematically limit the number of black actors eligible for major awards. But if you merely look at the late stages (“Gosh, everyone agrees that the best performances and the juiciest roles were all performed by white actors. If everyone agrees with this conclusion, then I guess there can’t be any bias in the system, right?”), you miss the deeper, systemic problems.

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nobody.really
on March 01, 2016 at 13:07:00 pm

Nobody:

You do have a point here.

I suspect many people, of all colors, ethnicity, etc., are capable of acting and doing a fine job of it.

Let me ask you two things:

1) What say you about the statistic I mentioned above - the 12.5% vs the 12.6% population figure; or does this simply indicate that there is no systemic bias in the actual *awarding* of trophy hardware yet there may very well be, as you suggest, a somewhat more clearer under-representation in the awarding of "roles."?
(Of course, one may still argue that "We don't really do the "percentage thingy."

2) Would you say that with respect to television the situation is markedly better. Aside from sports and a few series (including, of course, the ever humorous Ancient Aliens) I do not watch much TV - but i have noticed that there is an increasing number of black actors / actresses in prominent roles. This would include TV commercials, many of which present blacks in good family / middle class roles. I think this quite salutary, BTW.

So is there a difference in TV vs Hollywood and does it make a difference?

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gabe
on March 01, 2016 at 17:16:40 pm

1. Oh, I think the statistical evidence you offer is quite damning to my thesis -- if the statistic is accurate. I'd want to check that first.

2. I expect that there is more ethnic diversity in media. But there is more media, so I can't tell whether this reflects more than just the status quo.

Recall the words of Hank Ansari, a comedian of Indian descent:

I was doing an interview once, and this guy goes, so, you must be pretty psyched about all this "Slumdog Millionaire" stuff.

And I was like yeah, I am. I have no idea why, though. I had nothing to do with that movie. It's just some people who kind of look like me are in this movie that everyone loves and is winning Oscars and stuff.

And I was like whoa, whoa, whoa -- are white people just psyched all the time? It's like "Back to the Future" -- that's us! "Godfather" -- that's us! "Godfather: Part II" -- that's us! "Departed" -- that's us! "Sunset Boulevard" -- that's us! "Citizen Kane" -- that's us! "Jaws" -- that's us! Every fuckin' movie but "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Boyz n the Hood" is us!

So yeah, maybe there is greater ethnic diversity than in the past. But how much greater?

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nobody.really
on March 01, 2016 at 18:20:43 pm

Hey, now wait a minute there.

I get psyched when I see Godfather - what's wrong with that!!!

Being a nice old ginzo that I am, why wouldn't I, I ask you!!!!!

Anyway, I suspect that we, all of us, sometimes get hung up on "how much" rather than the fact that there is, has been, and will continue to be considerable progress made in these areas. Easy for me to say, you say - well, perhaps; yet, progress is both undeniable AND good. There is that.

A man has half an apple. does he lament that the apple is only half present; or does he relish the fact that the other half remains to be eaten. (In my case, we would use a glass of Walla Walla Valley Cabernet - but you get the point). I'd keep drinking my wine rather than throwing it out cause i haven't finished it yet.
How about you?

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gabe

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