Two factions are digging in their cleats to push their political agenda to the masses. One group suggests the Oscar® nominations must be more diversified. The other group suggests those receiving nominations did so on the merit of their work, not their skin color.
Side arguments have also risen suggesting that blacks shouldn’t complain, but instead “improve their craft to get nominated.” Still others suggest that “if you don’t like segregation, then close down the BET network.” More political strikes come from those suggesting it’s “the studios fault for not producing enough ‘black’ material.”
The arguments continue to divide the once unified art form, sending more professionals to television. Most shows are made with a universal audience in mind, but some are now suggesting that more “all black films” must be made. Diversity is now requiring more segregation for equality. Oh, the ebb and flow.
Everyone in the industry knows that audiences determine what films are made. If they support Star Wars to the sum of billions, then sequels will follow. If they don’t support the independent art film, then fewer art films will be made.
On average, white male actors dominate the box office. White females come next and then black men. The list continues through all nationalities, races and known orientations. It’s not rocket science. For some reason black actors like Denzel Washington (6 Oscar® Nominations and 2 Oscar® Wins) can draw a large audience of all races, while Tyler Perry (Zero Oscar® Nominations) draws a smaller mixed audience and a larger black audience.
Female leads draw fewer viewers than men, unless they happen to be Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lawrence. Why? Because men and women both like watching men on screen and fewer men and women like watching women on screen. If you want people of color to have more lead roles on screen, you need to give the audience incredible talent to change their minds about what they prefer to watch.
Three factors can create a green light project: talent, money and distribution. But, only one factor can determine a film’s success: the audience. Whoever can build an audience can make whatever film-starring vehicle they want, but it doesn’t mean it’ll be award winning.
As for the Academy, it’s open by invitation to those who do great work for a universal audience. Those who create niche films typical don’t get invited. Why? Because they don’t reach a large enough audience for the Academy to notice them. That’s not to say the Academy doesn’t try to award great filmmakers who practice outside of the universal audience segment, they do with best short film and documentary categories.
The Oscars® are the best of the best based on wide distribution. The blacks that have won Oscars® in the past deserved it. To suggest that a poorly acted film like “Straight Outta Compton” should get a nomination because they’re black, only weakens the well deserved Oscar® received by blacks in prior years. Yes, Compton’s was a good film (although written by two white guys), but the acting was only up to the caliber of a music video, not an award level theatrical picture.
The Academy doesn’t give everyone a trophy for showing up to set. They keep things extremely competitive to raise the standards in the industry. You have to be “excellent” in the eyes of “all your peers” to win.
Now, some think Will Smith (2 Oscar® Nominations) should have received a nomination for “Concussion.” However, the story wasn’t as powerful as the “Erin Brockovich” story that landed Julia Roberts her Oscar®. While Smith may have performed well, Oscar® is usually associated with great stories.
It takes the right combination of audience, money, talent, story and excellence to land a nomination. And, it takes the admiration of ones peers to cash in the nomination for a win. By sticking a couple music video actors in the nominations reduces the weight the nominations carry among peers. If the nomination means nothing, the win becomes nothing more than political, which kills the awarding of the art form by peers.
Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers