Monday, January 25, 2016

BOYCOTTING the Academy Awards, Reparations, and Meritocracy

I'm not  going  this  year.


This  will be  my 53rd  consecutive  year  of  boycotting  the awards.
Now I  haven't  been invited so I  doubt  my  opting  out  is  having  an  impact.

No one in our company, to my  knowledge  is  planning  to  go  but  I know  were  any  of  us invited  and  had  the  time and  money  to  travel  to LA  for  them  we  would  be there.
We  would  think  of  it  as a privilege  to be  asked.

So while  it's obviously  disappointing  more  African American performance  and   performances  from  actors  of color or  gender  diversity were  recognized, it's  odd  there's  been an  uproar  over  that exclusion  and  less  so  from  the  same  Hollywood  elite  performers  over  the  conversation  about  reparations  that  has been  raised recently  by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
 in  the  Atlantic.

In his  article he  movingly  describes  why   we  are  long  past  due  for  reparations  in   our  country. It's a moving  and  telling  argument  that  tugs  at  your  morality in our  current  world. It  seems  worthy  of  outrage  and  worthy  of a movement  that  would be  supported  by  prominent  people  of reputation  in  the  African American  community.  the  cause  seems  worthy  of  the  word "boycott"  with  all of  the  symbolic  populist  outrage  and  history  the  word  has  come  to  connect  with. Immediately  when  you  say  the  word  in America  you are  linking  yourself  with  some  of  the  most  important  social  activism of  our  time. It's a galvinizing word.

But  when it's  used in  relationship  to  the Oscars  in  describing  the  hurt, and  disappointment   some actors  are  feeling  that  members  of  their  race  were not  included as the  awards finalists,
it  seems  shallow.

It's just  not  deep  enough to inspire  "boycott".

The  people  who  are  doing  the   "boycotting "  are  not  people  who  would  be  categorized  as  underprivileged  by  our  industry  standards. Presumably  they  have  had  notable  roles in  notable  films  with  relatively  wide  releases.  Will Smith  is  not  starving  for  Instagram  followers, although he  lacks an nomination in 2016.

It's  difficult  to   turn  on  the  television  on any  night  and  not  see Idris  Elba in  something  wonderful.  He  has  justifiably  received opportunities  to offer  his talents  in many projects of  merit. Likewise, Michael B. Jordan,  another  snubbed  contender  for an  award  this  year  is  in  no  danger  of lacking  opportunity,  thanks  to his  memorable  and  deservedly  praised  work.

All of  which is  to  state  the  most  obvious point: The  Academy Awards  are  not  a  meritocracy.
The  Academy Awards  may be  the  very  definition of  elitist. Why  should  we  watch  thinking  they  were  governed  by  populist  appeal or  morals. Of  course  we watch hoping  the  best  man  or  woman  wins  each  year,  but  it's  not news to  say  the  Academy Awards is  political. So's the  race  for  President  of  the U.S.

It  seems  the  Academy  is  going  to make  some  changes  to address  all  this , and now there's  even  been a press  release  that Chris  Rock  intends  to joke  about  it  at  the  awards  show. Earth  shaking. The  thing  is, you  can  be  sure,  because  of  that  'joking'  it  will  one  of  the  "most  watched" Oscars  of  all  time. People  will  tune  in  to  see him  diss  the  Academy  for  racism. Perversely,  the Academy  of  Motion Pictures  Arts  and  Sciences  is  going  to  profit  from  its  racism.

But  none  of the  same  outrage  has  gotten  on  the  reparations  bandwagon, although  Bernie  Sanders  and  Hillary  Clinton  are  being  pummeled  for  think it's  not  a  practical  solution  to  the  problem. Of  course  it  doesn't matter  if  it's not  practical. It's  the  right  thing  to  do  so  we  should  do  it.

Doing  the  right  thing  is  rarely  practical  but  in any  organization just  about   any  top  leader  will  be  able to  tell  you  that  there  are  dividends  and  yield  within  every  company  when a  wrong  is  publicly and justly  righted.  It can  change  the  culture  of  an  organization. It  can  offer  real  hope  to  people   who  have  lost  hope  that  America  could  ever  justly  face  up  to  it's  past.

Now there  are  alot  of  challenges  with  the idea of  reparations  but  there are  alot  of  challenges
with alot  of movements  in  our  country.  There  are  alot  of  folks  who  want  to  make  abortions  harder  to  get  in  our  country. Seems  tremendously  unfair  but  after  Roe vs.Wade  they  certainly had  alot  of  challenges n front  of  them and  they are  prevailing  by  passing  phony  laws in  huge  states. If  they  can  prevail  with  that cause, it's  difficult  to  understand  why  the cause of  reparations  might  not  someday have a hashtag with  just  as  many  Hollywood  names  using  as  the  Oscar boycott.


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