The Smoke Breakers episode 001 – The Gold Standard:
A little time has passed since the Oscars live telecast, and the glamour and controversy have seemed to die down for another year. But me being me, I’ve been thinking about the Oscars recently. Now what got me thinking about the Oscars again is a little odd. I was watching one of my favorite movies, John Carpenter’s They Live and I remembered something that angered me on the night, the omission of wrestler and actor Roddy Piper. While he may not have been a high profile actor in the movie business, but he did make movies from action and sci-fi, to thrillers and dramas, and some ended up cult classics. And he is, was and remains my favorite wrestler of all time and to see he was not on the In Memorandum segment really pissed my off.
So, while I was reeling in my disgust for this oversight, I started thinking about other elements of the night that I didn’t like. And the biggest thing leading up to the Oscars, the #OscarsSoWhite talking and voicing opinions and concern about the lack of actors and artists of colour nominated for awards reared up in my memory.
Now the controversy got a burst of steam after Jada Pinkett Smith, talent actress and wife of Will Smith, weighted in with her opinions after her husband Smith was overlooked for a nomination for his work in Concussion. I did see this film and I thought it was a good movie, not great, but it was entertaining. I rarely like films with a sports angle, but the medical elements where great. And Smith’s work in the film was damn good. But I am sorry to say, he has been better. The Pursuit of Happiness, Focus and even one of his earlier film The Six Degrees of Separation where much better performances and nominations should have been thrown his way then. But as a performance in the last Oscar’s year, he should have been nominated I believe, as a number of actors of various skin colour and race, but we rarely get what we wish for as fans. That’s part of being a fan and I don’t have to tell that to any Firefly fans out there, do I?
But when you look at the surface of the nominations for acting, it does look like that people of colour have been shafted, two years in a row no less. Michael B. Jordan in Creed, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation and everyone in Straight Outta Compton all deserved nominations in my opinion and I was blown outta my seat for every one of these films. Out of these films my favorite and my favorite performance was Jordan’s in Creed. He not only redeemed himself for the awful Fantastic Four film he was a part of, he signaled to the world he is a talent to watch as the director of the film, Ryan Cooper.
All of these films should have been given there due. And I believe part of the reason they didn’t was the Academy’s judges. They are predominantly men, overwhelmingly Caucasian and over 50. Most demographics are not represented in this body. Changes have been put into place, but concerns of race and sexes getting better representation not only in the Academy, but in film making circles, has been a point of contention since the 1950s, and much hasn’t change. So I hope this happens because there are many actors, both men and women, I believe deserve recognition for their work.
Ultimately, I know this is just an award ceremony for movies have half the world won’t watch and I know there are better problems out there then whether an actor or actress didn’t get that pat on the back from a bunch of old white dudes. There are wars, disease, famine, natural disasters, politicians, reality TV and dreams where you are naked in public. You know, the biggies.
But that being said, these awards ceremonies are glamorous, high profile, celebrated and seen around the world. If you want to see a change to do with race, gender equality and presentations of sexual orientation and religious tolerance having a fair and impartial body nominating actors and filmmakers that embody for their work on this stage is a great way to do it. The world needs to be educated, stories need to be told, and people need to be entertained, not just white America. There is a whole world out there that devours America’s products and the biggest cultural product is filmed entertainment. But having said that, the biggest problem I see is the movie business in America is the studio heads and the studios not having faith that certain stories can make money in the market place. I think studio heads and network bosses are full of shit, and scared of losing their jobs and relevance. If network, cable and subscription television can tackle things that the movie industry can’t, film’s little cousin is going to grow up and kick its last ass. Television these days tackle stories dealing with race, gender and sexual orientation where film hasn’t. They even have Black, Asian and women leads in these shows. Stuff Hollywood is hesitant to do.
And I just realised I don’t know how to finish this, what would you call it? Article? Rant?
Well, I say if you want to have a discussion, comment and let’s get talking.