In a world where films matter more than people dying
In a place where black lives still matter unless Flint Michigan’s water is poisoning people.
One man dares talk about the trail of idiocy from this year’s Oscar nominations after already getting to it on his podcast.
In 2016 THE Ruthless Wonder is…
…of the internet.
You truly long time readers remember me and black people in films. And of course podcast listeners to The WRATH of Ruthless already have experienced my opinion about the Oscars this year. And you may think that between the podcast last week, the dem nominee debate Sunday night, the Rep nominee friday, and literally a small fuck ton of happenings that it is odd I’m going back to the Oscar well. Well…your wrong. This piece is not about how shockingly white the Oscars are this year. This isn’t even about our WDDIJ bets on Leo losing again and thus making our #LeoAtTheOscars contest even funnier. This is about the reaction of you dolts to the nominations.
Back in the first year of this wonderful world of Ruthlessness and Wonder I talked about making a territory of the US for black people. Mostly to make fun of the hoteps and pro blacks out there who lack a fundamental understanding of the flexibility of governance in the US as well as the stupid idea of any back to Africa based movement that includes making a new place. But if you took from that piece that I’m against fighting the power of something by coming up with an alternative you’ve not been paying attention then, or right now.
Every year since I’ve been aware enough to know and understand what exactly the Oscars were I’ve wondered about the place of black people in them. But deeper than that I wondered how they became so important. And then I realized something. Like most things in America’s cultural past. And indeed like many modern customs and traditions. The power exists because it is so ubiquitous in a place or among a people that it has normalized there. The Academy Awards are not different. Not at all. But this isn’t about the awards it is about the reaction.
When you see the lack of communities of color in the nominations, it speaks to that internal notion of injustice. And it is right for you to experience that. But allow me to take your energy and turn it into something positive. Something better. While admittedly, also taking a shot at a bastion of the civil rights movement. Where is the community of color version of the Oscars? I don’t mean a Latino only award show. And I DEFINITELY don’t mean the NAACP Image Awards. Look, I’m an NAACP member. I’m a former teen president of an NAACP chapter, I’ve done their ACT-SO competition, I’ve volunteered with them for multiple protests as recently as 2014 in St. Louis. I have no beef with the NAACP except for the Image Awards.
Why? Because it is possibly the biggest waste of time in award show season. Why? Lack of focus. And even more, lack of positioning. What do I mean? The Image Awards certainly could have been the alternative to the Oscars. When the first one occurred, the intention was to honor black people in specific areas. It was more about fixing who should have gotten an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, or Tony nomination than truly making itself stand apart. And even now it is littered with the same sentiment. Because it is easy to hover in that space. So, what then? What do you do?
Well thank you for asking the question. It should have a very obvious answer but I guess I need to break this down. In America you cannot topple every long standing tradition. This is why the AFL became the AFC and is a part of the NFL not the other way around. But I don’t want the Image Awards folded into the Oscars either. Instead, Leave literally all of these awards alone in their structure. Instead, take the Image awards and move them to the first of the year, before the Golden Globes. Announce the nominees before the Globes, BAFTAs, and Oscars. And otherwise let it be what it is. A showcase of well known black talent. Why move it? Because It should start award season. It needs to be televised on a major channel in order for ever other awards voter to see who’s got some buzz going into the nominations.
So what else right? This can’t just be about moving the Image awards. Oddly enough folks you’re right. This is about something else being drawn up from the bottom of my brain into the public space. The American Institute of Film. And The American Music Institute. And The American Institute for Television and Mass Media. Don’t worry if you have never of these. I’ve conjured them whole cloth from my genius brain. Why? Because the names are inoffensive, and don’t directly tell you who they serve. Why? Because this town needs no not an enema, it needs an enemy. Much as I am a neo-monarchist, I am as much a conqueror. And the challenge of taking down the high place the Oscars and the Academy have run to needs more than just an army of black people shouting “Black Actors Matter!” And this is the way to do it.
AIF does an awards show, but unlike the Oscars, makes it public who the initial voters are. Obviously the idea is to cater to all communities of color in America, with the same token representation for American’s ethnic classification majority aka White People as the Academy gives to Black people and women. Why? Because this is protest as much as it is honor. No racial quotes, no bigoted rhetoric, just very clearly an agenda, but one you can’t call out in public. After all turnabout is fair play. Age wise these voters come across age groups and that is where the balance is attempted. All of the 500 voters(I like numbers that are easy to segment), running from 18 to as old as possible to watch all these films, vote after a committee does the nominees. So you can already see the similarity to the Oscars. Same with the AMI, and to a degree with the AITMM. In this new media world honoring online talents is just as important.
Why do this? Why not make something that exists better? Oh we should. I was getting to that. The reason you need something brand new is that the way things are now makes it impossible to ignore the track record, impression, and internalized beliefs of what exists. Despite all he has done since Mike Vick is a dog fighter. But also, it seems like pandering to take something and start remolding it. Forcing change on the Oscars requires pressure. So what do you do with the new pressure on the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and Grammys? You use it to get new voting members in. I spoke just a bit ago about having an army to fight with you. And it needing to be bigger than just black people. What is in the end stronger than every community of color developing, supporting, and championing awards that don’t just tangentially recognize the most famed in a particular part of entertainment as they are forced to take sub-optimal positions in majority culture?
This is about pressing together. And yes you need the film critics. You need a generational change in who is listened to. Well that takes the influence of those at the forefront. And at the same time, you have to work inside the system. Jada Pinkett-Smith said she was boycotting the Oscars. I was disappointed. I think there is nothing more powerful than every black actor, director, writer, and technical worker in the film industry showing up, mobbing the red carpet, doing the interviews, being there in the crowd, and clapping until the camera hits them. And trolling the Oscar coverage by stopping and scowling each time they are on camera. Maybe if bold enough, flashing a sign that says #NotMyAwards If Alejandro González Iñárritu wins for The Revanant and did that after? Everyone would ask about it. And then he’d say My Awards are the AIF’s (insert cool reference nickname).
The bottom line is you can change things but it takes more than one tactic. It takes some “dirty pool” at times. Hell it takes some straight up old school bullying. Put that Alternative show 2 nights before the Oscars 1 weekend before, or After. Publically say voters for it have until after the Oscars to put in their votes. You have to put pressure where you can. And you have to work together as communities of color to make it happen. I could go on and on about this. And talk for a while about the AITMM idea. But as you good and damn well know by now, Words Don’t Do It Justice!