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Black Actors Matter

88thoscars_dream_1jfWell, yes, of course they do.  Just like black lives.

But does that mean the white actors don’t?  Just like, as it often seems, white lives don’t?  And what about (alphabetically) Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, and Native American actors?  Do their careers matter?  Do their lives matter?

Don’t ask Kathleen McCartney, the president of Smith College who was coerced into apologizing for having the audacity to send off an email with the provocative subject line “All Lives Matter.”

Apparently, some lives matter more than others.

And now, so do some actors.

It’s more that a little astonishing that, in an article dog-piling on the Motion Picture Academy for its racism, the Daily Beast could still manage to rattle off a list of 18 black Oscar winners and nominees.

(Interestingly, the Beast doesn’t seem to think Halle Berry counts, since she’s half-white.  Kind of like our half-white president.)

It is true, roars the Beast, that Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Queen Latifah, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo, Eddie Murphy, Octavia Spencer, Djimon Hounsou, Taraji P. Henson, Don Cheadle, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Jennifer Hudson, Will Smith, Gabourey Sidibe, Quvenzhané Wallis, and the late Ruby Dee have all received Oscars or Oscar nods since 2001.

Be that as it may, “the last two years have felt like an alarming regression.”

Really?  Isn’t two years is an awfully short time span to constitute a trend of any kind, much less one that could be considered even remotely “alarming”?  But no:  the politics of race and victimization are unbounded by time.

Because, ultimately, it does all come down to politics.

Back in 1971, after delivering one of the greatest screen performances in history, George C. Scott became the first actor ever to refuse an Oscar.  The BBC quoted Mr. Scott as having said that the politics surrounding the awards was “demeaning” and describing the Oscar ceremony as “a two-hour meat parade.”

Some things never change.

As the most liberal of all liberal institutions in liberal America, Hollywood continues to produce propaganda pieces despite the inevitability of their box office failures.  Films like Brokeback Mountain and Lions for Lambs may have been well-received for advancing certain political and social agendas, but neither attracted much of an audience.

Sidney Poitier where are you, now that we need you?

Indeed, there’s no limit to Tinseltown’s political correctness; and now there’s no arguing against cinematic affirmative action.  I suppose it won’t be long before every actor has to get a statuette, just like every kid in Little League has to get a trophy.

And what will be after that?  My bet is that it’s only a matter of time before short people file suit claiming discrimination by the NBA.

In the meanwhile, it’s worth revisiting these thoughts on the movie industry from 2009.