| 03.17.2018

One giant leap for Hollywood – #OscarsSoWhite controversy raises more questions than answers


It”s Oscars season, and that means controversy.

Normally, it would be over whether or not “Mad Max: Fury Road” deserves a Best Picture nomination, but this year it”s over who didn”t get nominated for awards. Specifically, outrage has been spurred by the lack of African-American nominees in this year”s Oscars.

Bradley Burgess

A campaign championed by Jada Pinkett Smith is illustrated by the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite to argue that Hollywood is prejudiced against African-Americans when it comes to the Oscars. Many African-American Hollywood personalities, including Spike Lee, John Legend and Don Cheadle have spoken on the controversy and many are boycotting the ceremony this year because they feel so strongly about the issue.

I”m not going to lie – this is a crock of crap. It”s true, I am a white male and have no experience when it comes to prejudice, but hearing about racial problems in 2016 makes me roll my eyes.

We”ve come a long way as a country when it comes to racial equality. To say that we”ve gone back to square one just because there are no black actors nominated for movie awards in one year is a pretty big leap in judgment.

I acknowledge that this year”s acting nominees are not as diverse as they could be, but just because that”s true doesn”t mean that there will never be any more racially diverse nominees in the future.

The Oscars have honored African-Americans in the past. Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Octavia Spencer, Forest Whitaker and many more have won major acting awards at the Oscars in the last 10 years. Let”s not forget that”12 Years a Slave,” a film written by, directed by and starring African-Americans, won Best Picture in 2014.

To say that one award ceremony represents our return to racial inequality is utterly ridiculous. It”s not the 1800s, people. The President of the United States is black.

Are we seriously suggesting that we”re going back to the segregation era of history just because “Straight Outta Compton” didn”t get a Best Picture nomination?

For me, the worst part about this whole controversy is how seriously people are taking it. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is already changing up their voting and membership rules to be more diverse in the wake of this controversy. It”s like if someone on YouTube commented that a video was offensive and the video”s owner turned himself into the police. That”s an overreaction, and yet people are taking this overreaction seriously.

Regardless of where someone stands on this controversy, the handling of it is what will make or break it. If the Academy can earn back the respect of minorities, good for them. If not, they”ll be disgraced for the dumbest reasons I could possibly think of.

Bradley Burgess  can be reached at  arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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