March 29, 1996 in City

And The Racism Award Goes To: Oscar

Gregory P. Kane The Baltimore Sun
 

Finally some people are beginning to see Hollywood for what it is: the last bastion of white supremacy in America.

You read it right. Hollywood. Not the skinheads. Not the Ku Klux Klan. Not right-wing militia loonies. Hollywood. Tinseltown moguls don’t spew hatred or attack minorities. Their damage is done in much more subtle and insidious ways.

On Monday night, Hollywood handed out its Oscar awards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual orgy of self-indulgence. As usual, it was a white thing. The only black nominated was director Diane Houston for a live-action short film.

How bad was it? In a year that gave us Denzel Washington in the exquisite “Devil In A Blue Dress,” Larenz Tate in “Dead Presidents” and Angela Bassett’s performance the only thing worth noting in “Waiting To Exhale,” a movie about a talking pig got more nominations than any film involving black artists. Final nomination score: Pig 7, Blacks 1. Final victory score: Pig 1, Blacks 0.

The problem isn’t limited to movies or the Oscars. I’m still livid that “Homicide” actor Andre Braugher wasn’t even nominated for an Emmy - a classic case of Hollywood ignoring excellence by a black performer.

In its March 18 issue, People magazine lamented Hollywood’s continued exclusion of blacks from top-level and off-camera positions. The Rev. Jesse Jackson had his Rainbow Coalition demonstrate outside ABC affiliates during the Oscar telecast - to the scorn of Whoopi Goldberg and the assorted fops in the audience. (In addition to having only one black nominee, the Academy added insult to injury by inflicting Goldberg on us for three hours and 35 minutes. My God, haven’t black people suffered enough?)

Jackson ain’t right too often - but on this issue he hit the nail squarely on the head. The reverend tried his usual tactic - begging for inclusion - before threatening a boycott. Let’s go with the boycott. Do we really want to be included in an industry as committed to white supremacy as Hollywood? Many classic Tinseltown films are veritable paeans to white supremacy. Consider this list:

“King Kong” and any Tarzan movie: for reasons obvious.

“Gone With The Wind,” where blacks are portrayed as loyal, obsequious darkies fretting over the fate of Marse Rhett and Miss Scarlett. Don’t object that the film was made in 1939. It still holds a dear place in the hearts of many Americans. Besides, more recent examples abound.

“The Magnificent Seven,” where seven gringos put to rout 40 Mexicans on behalf of some Mexican peasants who can’t help themselves. Note: a white guy played the role of the lead Mexican bandit.

The first three “Rocky” movies, where the heroic and hard-working Italian Stallion is pitted against his vain, venal and evil black opponents.

The “Lethal Weapon” sidekick sagas - a throwback to “The Lone Ranger” - in which Danny Glover’s black character can’t even go to the bathroom without being saved by his white partner Mel Gibson.

“Made In America” is the most dangerous of the lot because its viewed as the least harmless. Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg have an interracial love affair. The plot of the movie hinges on Danson being the father of Goldberg’s daughter via artificial insemination. It turns out later he isn’t, but the sperm is from some white college student gifted in math and science. Goldberg’s daughter is portrayed as similarly gifted, and the film makes it clear her intellectual talents didn’t come from Goldberg.

As good as the movies “Glory” and “Dances With Wolves” were, we can add them to the list because they reinforce Hollywood’s notion that a story about people of color isn’t worth telling unless told through the voice of a white main character.

Hollywood-style white supremacists think they’re liberal. They believe they’re OK on the race issue. They find nothing wrong in Samuel L. Jackson’s brilliant performance carrying “Pulp Fiction” and then nominating John Travolta for best actor in the film.

But black folk shouldn’t get angry. We should get even. We should take the money we would spend on movies and donate it to any group of black film artists serious about starting a black studio. Then we can form our own Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and give us our proper due.

xxxx


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