Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oscars 2015

Tensions ran high and emotions ran higher at this year’s Oscars which served as a platform for the provocation of a lot of controversial issues, naturally demanding my attention. 

Racism is the first thing that comes to mind as the Oscars have been anointed many choice names from “Whitewashed Oscars” to “Oscarssowhite” and so on due to all of the acting nominees being Caucasian to which the Host Neil Patrick Harris cheekily remarked  “Tonight we honour the best and the whitest…I mean brightest”.

The bias of the Academy probably stems from the capitalistic nature of Hollywood where they tend to stick to tried and tested formulae when producing movies resulting in mainly stereotypical or historical roles for racially diverse actors. 

The situation was aggravated due to prior racial incidents namely the Ferguson shooting making the entire Oscars seem more racist than it actually was due to its lack of diversity. We mustn’t forget that in 2014 12 years a slave won the award for best picture, Lupita Nyong’o won the award for best supporting actress and Alfonso Curano won the award for best director for Gravity.

However this does not excuse the fact that there were incredible performances by actors of other races that weren’t appreciated, one that immediately comes to mind is breakout actor David Oyelowo who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr., and I admonish the Academy for that. I may be biased since Selma resonated strongly with me, but you didn’t need to watch the film to be moved to tears by John Legend and Common’s performance of “Glory” which incidentally won the award for best original song and exploded on the internet for making the audience cry particularly Chris pine.

John Legend’s acceptance speech also pointed out the harsh fact that there were more black people, 1 in 11 according to statistics, under correctional control than there were slaves in the 1850s. Granted that today’s justice system is in no way comparable to the severity of slavery this figure still seems too ludicrous to be true, but sadly it isn’t. 

Later on in the night the situation was further agitated when Sean Penn’s racist retort “who gave this son of a bitch a green card” was aimed at director Alejandro González Iñárritu and caused a major uproar among the public. This reaction was premature since the audience had no clue that Sean and Alejandro were close friends and that this was a running inside joke. I’m certain I speak on behalf of many of you when I say that this is the sort of relationship I share with my friends where our humour can be misconstrued as harsh in any scenario other than amongst us. 

In conclusion Should Sean Penn have said a racist joke on live TV? No. Should we take up arms against it? No.

Fortunately due to intermingling of races, in the future there will be no races and ipso facto no racial disputes.

Gender Equality was also addressed at the Oscars as Reese Witherspoon, Patricia Arquette and Julianne Moore initiated a campaign #askhermore aimed at getting the public to compel the media to ask female celebrities questions beyond their outfits.

Although petty, clothing rivalries and who wore it best competitions are all part and parcel of entertainment media. Celebrities know it, the public knows it. They exploit it, we devour it. Hence all those “controversial”, publicity attracting, see through/bare all outfits. It is a vicious cycle but one which celebrities themselves are partly responsible for peddling. It does accentuate how archaic the media machine that focuses on a woman’s dress rather than her opinions is.

 Arquette later went on to add, in her acceptance speech, that women don’t get paid equal amounts to their male counterparts, which resonated with the crowd and the community. The Gender pay gap is a global issue but at least in the US there is actual legislation that enforces Equal Pay.

The problem is that not enough lawsuits are being filed to make profit seeking companies fear litigation. Why the issue isn’t championed and challenged in court by those affected may be due to numerous reasons like lack of knowledge, personal disinclinations, contracts, difficulties in appraisal, etc.  

Suicide was another issue that was broached, specifically by producer Dana Perry in her acceptance speech for Crisis hotline: Veterans Press 1 as she shared her son’s tragic death from suicide.

This shone a light on the dark reality that suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 to 24.It’s easy to forget that these are the most impressionable and influential years of our lives ,and the reason why bullying, bad parenting and associations are such critical concerns.

Best Screenplay award winner for the Imitation game ,Graham Moore, also revealed his troubled childhood, where he attempted suicide, offered this heartening statement “that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different”. 


Advocacy of such nature forces acceptance and a change in mentality engendering the message that it is alright to have such tendencies but it isn’t alright to hide them.

Seek help and Seek health because recovery is more than possible.           

The Oscars are generally considered to be superficial but this year the limelight was taken up by real issues. I applaud celebrities for their use of such a globally viewed stage to address such sensitive and serious subjects.


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