Thursday, January 21, 2016

Again Oscar?

Ramblings Post #310
Honestly, my only real Oscar interest is when Turner Classic Movies does its Thirty One Days of Oscar film fest. There are some nights on TCM that you find yourself watching something and you have to wonder how this got made...even in 1950! But during Oscar month, just about everything is gem. Old favorites come out, popcorn is popped and I don't even mind that it's cold outside.  

Once again the Oscars have been announced, and once again the majority white, pretty much all male, and mostly over 60 members have decided the best actors in the country for the past year pretty much look like themselves. Again. Gee that was unexpected.

When you consider the films that emerged this year that were well written and well acted, but that didn't star the same old same old or follow the same old formulas, and had actors that were minorities in prominent roles, this is a little disappointing. But not wholly  surprising. I know we've got a black president, but Hollywood is Hollywood and when you consider that it still thinks films with female or minority leads can't open big (*cough*Force Awakens) or aren't internationally marketable (see Exodus: Gods and Kings) the idea that they then, and probably without even thinking about it, omit certain films is...well, understandable.  It's kind of why some of the other award shows - The Image Awards, The BET awards, etc, - came into existence. Because nothing feels worse than knocking it out the park and not being recognized at all for it.

The one acting nomination that did emerge even connected to a minority led and minority lead picture garnered it's sole accolade for the acting of the White Male supporting actor. What surprised me even more is that somehow this was a shock to those who have worked in the industry for decades. 

Which brings me to Jada Pinkett-Smith, who suggested the Black Hollywood boycott Regular Hollywood.

I'm not saying it's because her husband was nominated, but I'm just saying the timing shole is funny. (By the way, my friends from Africa tell me his accent was wrong based on the character, so that's one point not in his favor.)

The term boycott to me is always interesting, because it is the go-to method of protest for upper class black outrage. Even when it's use won't actually help it's the first idea anyone bougie throws on the table. Boycott'em. Because it sounds historic and requires little effort. But to make a boycott efficient, it has to be something that depends on business with blacks to thrive, and where taking away that black trade would inflict heavy financial damages. That model won't work with Hollywood. Further, Pinkett-Smith is asking some black actors to risk their livelihood. Sure, Sam Jackson will find work, but a few of the actors on the cusp who just got their first invite can't really afford to bite the hand that feeds them. Not even nibble on it really.

My first suggestion is that instead of a boycott, everyone black who is invited should go. But they should coordinate, and everyone wear the same color outfit, one just offsetting enough to catch the eye but not enough to throw the whole night off. Say, all the men who support the diversity effort wear a yellow gold tuxedo jacket. And all the women wear matching gold dresses of various shades. This way you include non-minorities who support the cause. Imagine George Clooney and Sam Jackson showing up in the gold...and explaining what they're doing in a calm and patient manner, over and over again to the assembled press. A camera sweep of the room with heavily laid out against black would be a striking image you could probably put on posters. Why not that instead of boycott? Just a suggestion. 

My other suggestion for the "black elite" those whose talents and skills have blessed them with fortunes is why not establish their own "base." Long I have heard the stories of black people in Hollywood and the diminished, stereotypical roles they are offered. And the question I've often asked, much like you ask anyone else on any other job, if you're this dissatisfied, why not create your own future instead of waiting for the world to serve you what you need? Why hasn't Black Hollywood made it's own Hollywood?

Black athletes and actors should get together, pool their monies, and create their own production companies. Plural. Three or four. I realize that all actors aren't wealthy, most of them are living project to project, so some of this is old school asking those who got something to lookout for the rest of us. Will, Jada, looking at you. Those that can invest a few million need to do so, and if we can raise a few hundred million from a thousand or so folks that all would go into Film Trusts or Associations. Then we choose two or three old school black actors or directors to serve on the boards and select various projects. With a that little bit of money (comparatively speaking) we're talking about three or four medium budget ($5-10 million dollars) films per year, with a profit sharing plan that pays out to the investors but also pays back into the Trust.

This business model gives young minority directors a chance to flex their skills, young minority script writers a chance to put hone their skills and get a resume going, and minority crew members as chance to work as well. These need not be exclusively black projects, but all minorities, with shorts, television shows, animation, web shows and features that show that minority actors can be the any character in the spectrum, from sci-fi to prestige dramas.  

But these just a few ideas that I had. Not that I'm anyone important.

Barkeep. I need a glass of white. And drop three grapes into it. It's a class thing.

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