COMMENT: What is #OscarsSoWhite?

There has been outrage since the announcement of the Oscar nominees, and the realisation that there was no diversity in race amongst them. As a result, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is taking over the internet in an attempt to comment on and boycott the awards show.

Jada Pinkett-Smith is one of those boycotting the awards ceremony, taking to Twitter to express her feelings:

 

She isn’t the only one with these feelings. Chris Rock is the host of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, and some leaders of the black community, like Tyrese Gibson and 50 Cent, are pressuring him to step down. However, the comedian has called out the lack of diversity in his own way, tweeting this promo with the comment; “The #Oscars. The White BET awards.” For those who don’t know, the BET awards are the Black Entertainment Television awards that solely celebrate the black community in film and television.

 

Not all people of colour feel the same way though, with Janet Hubert posting a video in response to Jada Pinkett-Smith, “I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you’re talking about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win? That’s not the way life works, baby.”

At the end of the day, however, there is a larger issue that has become apparent in the wake of the Oscar nominees, and that is the lack of roles for people of colour. There needs to be more roles written, and this means parts other than the stereotypical maid roles written for Latina women, or the taxi driver role for Middle-Eastern men, the nerdy Asian, or the “gangsta” character for black actors. If these roles continue, how will these actors ever be able to grow and be recognised for their achievements in film and television? No, we need to write diverse roles for people of colour. Why can’t we have complicated Indian heroines? Or sensitive black men trying to make it through being an intern? Why can’t we have incredible stories written featuring these people?

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president, and is alsothe first black president of the Academy, put out this statement on twitter about the lack of diversity:

https://twitter.com/TheAcademy/status/689287654492377089/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

A key line in the statement is; “But change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”

The Oscars should be about celebrating all talent, not a privileged few. It should be about all different actors of all different ages, genders, races, sexual orientations and abilities. This particular award show has missed an opportunity to promote inclusivity. People often go to TV and film to see themselves represented, and this award show has ensured that only a few people are seen as important. It tells people, “hey, characters that look like you or are similar to you don’t count. They’re odd. They’re unrelatable.” And what does that do? It alienates people.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been created to call out the white entertainment industry by everyone who is not represented by it.

It’s about damn time.

Originally published here.

Feature image found here

Opinions are author’s own

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