So I couldn’t help but think that the robust, diverse TV Everywhere ecosystem was a factor in all the uproar over the two-year black actor shutout in the top Academy Award performance categories. First, I believe the protests are completely valid, especially this year, where there were many first-rate star and costar turns by African-American actors, from Will Smith in “Concussion” to Michael B. Jordan in “Creed.” As Spike Lee wrote to the Academy, “How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”
I agree with Chris Rock’s decision to host the Academy Awards and bring his A+ comic skills to skewer the process from inside the tent, as much as I support Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith’s decision to stay home that night.
Last year the Academy saw there was a problem and thought part of the way to address it was to award Lee an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar. The symbolic nature of that act falls completely flat now. As Lee says, “the real battle” is in the executive offices at the major studios, which “are still overwhelmingly white.” Until minorities are better represented, the Oscar nominees will be far from a rainbow coalition.
Lending his voice to the protest, George Clooney told Variety: “If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African-Americans were nominated. I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?”
Indeed, why does it seem to take some “executive action” by Oprah Winfrey to bring about Oscar noise? Why is it not a welcome and worthy given, instead of an exception worth noting?
Studio executives and the Academy would do themselves and all of us a favor by taking a look at what’s going on in the TV landscape. While there’s still some ways to go there, too, the Emmy Awards are much more inclusive than the Oscars. And why? Because there’s simply more diverse quality on the small screen. From ABC to Neflix, TV biz members know that the wider the net is cast in terms of diversity, the more success they’re going to have on the bottom line.