Sunday January 31 2016

Oscars could be a storm in a teacup



The 2016 whiteout in the acting categories — for the second year in a row — casts doubt on the relevance of the Oscars to contemporary culture. How can they be when two critically lauded box office successes centering on African-Americans received only two nominations

After some years of controversy, corruption, match fixing and other scandals in the football field, the athletic arena, the cycling world and other domains where people compete and are awarded for their achievements, this time it might be a bumpy road for the Academy awards, also known as the Oscars, albeit in a different way.

After the announcement of this year’s Oscars nominations, some famous stars such as Spike Lee, Will Smith and his wife Jada Smith, are accusing the academy of failing to nominate a single non-white acting nominee, for the second year in a row.

They in turn will not show up at the event this year. Not only that, calls are made for others to do the same and not attend this year’s ceremony, and the bulk of the pressure is landing on the shoulders of Chris Rock, who is hosting the event this year.

Anything wrong with that?
Not everyone agrees with the boycott, other African-American stars such as Mo’Nique who won an Oscar in 2010, has criticised Will and Jada for making such a fuss and said that with the amount of pay Will Smith is earning (estimated at $20m per movie) he is already a winner.

As much as I agree with diversity in all domains of life, I think the issue above is a storm in a teacup. It occurs to me that while we know the world outside is not yet a fair and just one, there are steps to be taken to remedy that.

These steps should not include, anger, boycott and other harsh means that will only perpetuate this circle of feeling victimised.

Will Smith, has managed to come a long way from the days he was acting in the TV series of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, advancing so fast and making giant steps in his Hollywood career, appearing in beautiful movies such as I am Legend, Seven Pounds and Men in Black.

With his humour and charisma, he managed to capture many hearts and he is still does. As Mo’Nique put it rightly, he is already a winner.

Implication to the rest
I believe that beyond acting and gaining a lot of money, most of these movie stars have become icons to many people, especially the younger generation.

Such statements only amplify bad sentiments, so if there are groups in this world who don’t believe in diversity and still want to live in the stone age of prejudices, disappearing from the scenes will only make them stronger, and provoking one’s anger will be a goal they achieved.

Terms and conditions
I was reading about this gold-plated statuette that is awarded to the winners of the Oscars, and it seems that the winners sign a contract with the academy that they are not allowed to sell the trophy before first offering to sell it back to the academy at the price of : One US dollar!
That sums it up for me. The Oscar goes to: One who won the hearts and minds of millions who watch these movies.

George Clooney said the Oscars are moving in the wrong direction. David Oyelowo, whose magnificent performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma was overlooked in 2015, has stated that “for 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of colour, actresses of colour, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”