BY DANA REYNOLDS – STAFF WRITER
Beginning with host Chris Rock’s bold opening monologue and ending with the fiery, political anthem “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy running over the credits, the 88th annual Academy Awards delivered a sustained and wildly messy attack on Hollywood’s diversity problem. This year, uproar was unavoidable; for the second consecutive year, only white performers received nominations for the Academy’s acting awards—spurring the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to consume social media.
Rock cut right to the chase, opening with: “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice awards.” However, he did not only target the Academy. Anyone who knows Chris Rock’s comedy routines knows that he looks for different sides of issues and multiple ways to make people feel uncomfortable. For instance, he teased protesters—saying that African Americans did not protest similar Oscar “white-outs” in the 1960s because they were “too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.” Even with these jokes, many of the people within Dolby Theatre missed the underlying point: the Oscars are not important enough to get angry about.
Junior Mathias Braboy agreed with Chris Rock and stated that there are more important issues that African Americans are facing than not receiving nominations at the Oscars.
“I watched Chris Rock’s monologue, but the whole issue regarding nominations is not something we should put so much attention into,” Braboy said. “I would like to see more black actors/actresses, but I don’t think it should override other issues. I thought that it was wrong of certain black actors/actresses to boycott the Oscars. It was the wrong way to go about eliciting change—Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman were still there. It is only a matter of time before we will see change. African American actors/actresses should instead be continuously working to perfect their craft.”
Throughout the awards, Chris Rock repeatedly criticized Hollywood for its lack of diversity, insisting that the lack of black nominations comes from lack of opportunities.
“We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors,” Rock said. “That’s it. Not just once. Leo gets a great part every year.”
Junior Sydney Preston definitely thinks that the lack of opportunity for black actors and actresses is a problem.
“I think that they should recognize more African American actors and actresses,” Preston said. “Part of the problem is that they are not given enough roles. There are many talented African Americans actors and actresses that are not given the same opportunities as white actors and actresses, which is wrong.”
Centre librarian Jamie Powell also chimed in.
“There is totally a lack of diversity in major nominee areas,” Powell said. “I think that everyone should be recognized—not just African Americans and Caucasians. I thought that it was too slanted towards black and white. I did not see people from Asian or Hispanic decent recognized.”
Lack of diversity and racism is not just present in Hollywood. It is an issue that cannot be solved through one night of protest and I agree with Rock in that there are more pressing matters to address than not receiving nominations at the Academy Awards. Rock kept focusing on more pressing issues of race, such as police shootings of black subjects. However, like Powell said above, the show seemed to focus entirely on the marginalization of black people instead of focusing on how Hollywood marginalizes everyone who isn’t white and male. When the show did acknowledge other races, it piled on the stereotypes, such as using Asian kids to portray the accountants who tabulate the Oscar votes, hinting at the stereotype that all Asians are good at math.
I agree with actress Tina Fey’s comment regarding the Oscars:
“Guys, pick a lane. Like we’re going to fix everything tonight. You’re all rich. Why are you yelling at me about corporate greed?”
This is only one facet. This was only one night. Let’s focus on the real issues.