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Jan 25 2016
Ian McKellen On The Oscars: Complaints Are LEGITIMATE Comments (0)


I'm with Ian McKellen, who says he feels empathy for people of color who are noting Oscar's homogeneity because openly gay performers are disregarded as well. But perhaps even more than black perfumers, I would argue that the (total) exclusion of out gay stars from winning Oscars is due more to the lack of roles in which the tiny number of out gay stars are offered. Black actors do have it tough, but you can name more than 10 black performers, so their exclusion is more noticeable and therefore a bigger deal.

Try naming 10 out gay film actors. It's harder. And that is the fault of closeted gay actors.

As I have argued with white people who are quick to decide that all the white actors who've been nominated “deserve” it while black people who dare to notice the lack of people of color nominated in the acting categories are asking for “undeserving” people of color to be nominated (eye roll): The Oscar nominations are filled with deserving, undeserving, politically well connected, pretty, young, old, etc., random or obvious selections. It's not just about deserving, which is unquantifiable, it's about the fact that if the Oscars are, as we can all agree, a hot mess of competing factors, then why wouldn't people of color fall into that mix in numbers that mirror the population of working actors? They really should. The Emmys don't have this problem, right?

What I like about McKellen's comment is that I've said it myself this week: These complaints are “legitimate.” For white people to try to shut people of color down for noticing a lack of diversity, or for white people to immediately suggest that diversity in the nominees would mean that undeserving people of color would need to be chosen to fill out a quota, is not exactly the best way to counter a claim (regardless of the source) that the industry might be a little racially insensitive.

P.S. I think one aspect of the Oscars brouhaha is that it's not only about the voting members of the Academy (though that is one element), it's also about the lack of parts and films for black actors. They're not non-existent, but they're often very specific. More out-of-the-box casting would go a long way toward de-segregating films. When Boy Culture went from all-white to being an interracial romance, I objected because it was a difference in MY story that I created. But when I saw it, I realized it made the story better. Doesn't mean every film has to have black people in it, or white people in it, but instead of black versions of National Lampoon's Vacation, etc., it would be nice to have the female lead of a big, splashy romantic comedy be black even if it wasn't scripted that way, because race doesn't have to be a focus of every film with a black face in it.

P.P.S. As far as a boycott, I wouldn't boycott the Oscars over a troubling and oddly increasing lack of inclusion. But I think it's fair to talk about it. I think one reason so many white people are freaking out over this is that the incendiary Spike Lee is one of the people making the most noise, and because it was kicked off by Jada Pinkett Smith, who is (1) not a good actress, and (2) married to a guy who is considered to have been semi-snubbed this year, though he is no Idris Elba himself. I think the messengers are unpopular, and that this has led to some real defensiveness (and a lot of fucking embarrassing comebacks, like, “Halle has an Oscar,” what do they want? and, “We can't just give you an Oscar for the sake of diversity!”).