xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml'> Thinking Out Loud : Is Oscar Racist?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is Oscar Racist?

I must admit I didn’t watch the Oscars this year and I haven’t been a consistent viewer of the Oscars for many reasons; for one it is one of the longest award show broadcast on television, secondly it is probably the most boring awards show in television history, and thirdly and finally I have serious concerns regarding the judging and selection process, particularly for our recent African American winners.

Most recently, Monique’ just won her first ever Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress” during the awards show this past Sunday evening for her role as an abusive, berating, foul-mouth mother in the movie “Precious,” which I must also admit I haven’t seen. And, I haven’t seen it because most of the people that I know that I have seen it did not speak very highly of it, so I decided not to waste my time or money to go see it myself. According to those who have seen the movie, Monique’ spent the entire movie belittling, berating and abusing her over-weight daughter “Precious.” And, I was told the violent scenes in the movie that Monique’ evoked on her daughter was very disturbing, which was another reason why I decided to pass on seeing this movie. After hearing all of this about this Oprah Winfrey-Tyler Perry production, I said in the back of my mind that this movie won’t do to well in the theatres and might be on video sooner than later. And, here we are a year later and this movie has won not 1 but 2 Oscars along with a whole host of other awards. That being said, what are we to say or do as an African American community after Hollywood has vilified “domestic violence” by giving its proper tier one its highest awards. But that’s a question I want to think about as you read a little bit further and offer an answer later.

As I perused the statuses on Facebook and on Twitter Sunday evening, I was met with the usual congratulatory remarks from people who were happy for Monique’ snagging her first Oscar. I read such comments as; “You Go GIIIRRRRL” and “CONGRATULATIONS MONIQUE,” which is what I expected to see. And, in my search through the dozens and dozens of congratulatory messages to Monique’ I must admit firstly, I did not find what I was looking for. I was looking for some people who were critical, and even appalled at yet another black stereo-typical performance being sanctioned and glorified by Hollywood. And, I didn’t find one. Secondly, I must admit that I was in somewhat of a quandary regarding this Oscar moment. While it’s natural to bestow congratulations upon such a high honor, I found it very hard to see past the racist and stereotypical pill Hollywood again has forced us a African American community to swallow. It’s also interesting that some of those same people doling out compliments to Monique’ for her Oscar win, where also recently criticizing her show on BET-which bears her name, because of her crass and vulgar approach to comedy. Many of us are familiar with her brand of comedy and I must admit again that I truly am not a fan of her comedic work. But, that is strictly my opinion, of which I am entitled. Nevertheless, it is not a stretch of the thespian vain to cast a edgy, raunchy, crass, and vulgar comedian as a edgy, crass, abusive, and vulgar mother figure in a movie, which I always thought the rationale behind these kinds of awards shows were; how far did the actor stretch themselves for this role? How different a role for them was this from who they are as a person, or are perceived by the public, was this a believable character for them?

My question to you is, was Hollywood’s offering of its highest honor to Monique’ a way of saying, you really looked natural as a crass and abusive mother in this movie, and if so should she be offended by this? Conversely, to add insult to injury during the same Oscar telecast Sandra Bullock won a “Best Actress” award for her role as a warm-hearted, supportive and encouraging mother to a young black homeless young man who she found wondering the streets and took in and eventually adopted as her own son in the movie “Blind Side,” which was based on a true story. Here is a summary of the movie plot taken directly from a website called “The Internet Movie Database.” (IMDB.com)

“A poor, oversized and under-educated teenager is recruited by a major college football program where he is groomed into an athletically and academically successful NFL prospect.”The Blind Side" depicts the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher's presence in the Touhys' lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.

Note the heroic nature of Sandra Bullock’s role according to the storyline of the movie, “…well-to-do white family who help him (homeless African-American youngster) fulfill his potential.” Astounding! That storyline alone deserves an Oscar, not to mention the mother from the well-to-do white family should get one too. (I’m being sarcastic) This took place on the same awards show, where two types of mothers of two different races were given awards, one more stereotypical than the other, you guess which one. And, I guess the rationale according to Oscar was we’re an Equal Opportunity Awards Show, where both the “bad” and the “good” are both rewarded. How are we- as African Americans, suppose to digest this? Here Hollywood awards a stereotype of the urban black community, which is usually the object of ridicule and disdain from society at large and at the same time awards a well-to-do white mother who found compassion on a young African American football player and adopted him and took him in and road his star to the top of the NFL draft. What a tear-jerker! I find the whole thing quite disturbing, and very hard to celebrate.

Call me a cynic if you like, but I do not see the historic value in Monique’s Oscar win. Somebody might need to help me see why I need to be more appreciative of this accomplishment? Someone needs to show me the error in my thinking? Quite frankly, it is been hard stomaching the wins of the past black actors and actresses who received Oscars Tribute. Hattie McDaniels (Mammy), Sidney Pottier (soldier), Denzel Washington (ex-slave / crooked cop), Halle Berry (single mom), Jennifer Hudson (singer), Jaime Fox (singer/ entertainer) and now Monique’ joins this roster of African Americans who received Oscar glory. Don’t get me wrong all of these are actors and actresses who are great in their own right, some greater than others. But my point of contention lies with what they were honored for verses what roles they should have been honored for, again making me question the veracity of Oscars selection process as well as his racial preference?

Your thoughts?

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