When the Oscar nominations for 2016 came out on January 14th, none of the acting categories included people of color: no black, no Hispanic, no Asian… only white actors were nominated. Not to take away from the talented actors who were nominated, but the lack of diversity was stark and troubling. There were many actors who turned in Oscar-worthy performances last year. Idris Elba, Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan and the cast of Straight Outta Compton all gave terrific performances and could have been nominated for them. The public outcry was immediate and loud, with #OscarsSoWhite trending on Twitter for days.
Chris Rock, who was tagged for the Oscar hosting gig last fall, had been urged by some to boycott the award show, as several black actors did. But Rock used his position to, instead, poke fun at the 88-year-old institution and its lack of diversity. His opening monologue portended more forays into the issue. About an hour in, that foreshadowing came true in a brilliantly funny short film with black actors sending up some of the 2016 Best Picture nominees.
Rock, along with Whoopi Goldberg, Tracey Morgan and Leslie Jones, spoofed Joy, The Revenant, The Danish Girl and The Martian. With humor and satire, they shone a spotlight on the dearth of black acting nominees. It had most people laughing, including in my living room. I’m sure there were some who were offended, but there always are. To heck with them, this is funny and makes a point at the same time, exactly what satire was made to do.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has admitted that its voters are mostly old, white guys. They have invited more people of color into the organization, reaching out to women, foreign-born artists and people from many different races, ethnicities and ages. They have been made aware of the problem in a big way and seem to be trying to fix things.
Over the years, there have been many reasons to be proud of winners. People like Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Moore, John Irving and Jared Leto have been unafraid to voice their liberal beliefs in their acceptance speeches. It’s good to see that come out in the opening monologue and in this crazy, brave and hilarious little film. Enjoy.
Here is the film, courtesy of the Oscars on Go.com:
Featured Images via Screen Capture