February 25, 2013

Racism at the 2013 Oscars

5 Racist Things at the 2013 Oscars

By Andrea Quijada and Malkia Cyril1. 9 Year old black actress of Beasts of Southern Wild, youngest nominee ever, called a cunt by the Onion.

2. There Was No Band to Drown Out Seth MacFarlane's Racist Comments

Come on! Some people had Jaws theme music attack them just because they were saying a long-winded thank you! Yet not even one lonely flute interrupted Seth. Over and over again we were abandoned by a symphony of musical bystanders who forced us to listen to comments like:

"[Django Unchained] is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who's been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie."

"If you bumped into Don Cheadle in the studio lot, would you try and free him?" (on Daniel Day Lewis and his method acting)

"We’ve reached that point where Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek, or Penelope Cruz takes the stage and we have no idea what they’re saying but we don’t care because they’re so attractive."

“Denzel has a great sense of humor. He did all those Nutty Professor movies.” (on Denzel Washington/Eddie Murphy)

3. White Directors Win Oscars for Movies About Race, but Don't Use Their Platform to Address Racism

Yay! There’s a private club for white men who make movies about people of color (or star as them, too). It’s called the Academy Awards. Between the awards won for the movies Lincoln, Argo, and Zero Dark Thirty, the white directors of these films about African American slavery, Iran, and the U.S. led-war on terror failed to grasp that the white supremacy that was so useful in creating their winning dramatic storylines is the very same white supremacy that stuffed the Academy ballot box to begin with. Why can't these directors be more like Marlon Brando?

4. Invisible in Memoriam: The People of Color the Academy's Memorial Missed

In case you watched the Memoriam, you might not be aware that people of color live, work, and die in Hollywood, too. Here are some people we wanted to say goodbye to:

Guadalupe "Lupe" Ontiveros (September 17, 1942 – July 26, 2012) was an American film and television actress. Ontiveros acted in numerous films like Selena and television shows. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on Desperate Housewives.

Russell Charles Means (November 10, 1939 – October 22, 2012) was an Oglala Sioux activist for the rights of Native American people and libertarian political activist. Means was best known for his roles in films such as The Last of Mohicans; Natural Born Killers; and Pocahontas.

Sherman Alexander Hemsley (February 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012) was an American actor, who starred in several movies and television shows. He is best known for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS television series All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series Amen.

Donna Summer (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012) was an American singer and songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s. She won the Best Original Song Academy Award for "Last Dance."

5. They Didn't Tell Us the Oscar is Mexican!
Oscar Snubs Provide Fruitful Lesson

The awards show's failure to memorialize more black stars reminds us why Black History Month is vital.

By Nsenga K. Burton
During February, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Black History Month is still relevant or needed, particularly because of the "racial progress" that blacks have made over the last few decades. In the Huffington Post, Trudy Bourgeois writes that "Black History Month Needs to Go" for a variety of reasons, including the fact that there isn't a "White History Month," and black history should be incorporated into classrooms and event programming throughout the year.

Bourgeois' comments demonstrate a profound lapse in judgment by failing to recognize how white privilege and power operate in this country, like the ability to eliminate ethnic-studies courses even in states where white students are the minority, and by promoting the far-fetched idea that those in power would believe it's their responsibility to incorporate Black History Month programming year-round. Call me crazy, but if black folks waited for nonblacks to take care of our needs, which actually benefit all of society (civil rights, black history), we'd still be in shackles and having separate and unequal access to pretty much everything.

One need only look at the 2013 Academy Awards to understand why Black History Month is needed, along with a concerted effort by all Americans to ensure that black history is included in course curricula, event programming and major publications throughout the year. At the Oscars, while there is a lot of uncertainty about who will go home with a golden statue, one thing is certain every year: the "In Memoriam" section of the show, which highlights actors who have passed away in the previous year. Each year, like clockwork, the producers of the Oscars know it is coming, and they fail to remember important black actors who not only have had commercial and critical success but also have made great contributions to the acting community.
And:The academy didn't just forget black folks; it also forgot Latina actress Lupe Ontiveros, who starred in numerous films, including Selena (1997) and As Good as It Gets (1997). Native American actor-activist Russell Means starred in films like The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Natural Born Killers (1994) and was the voice of Powhatan in Walt Disney's Pocahontas (1995). Ontiveros and Means starred in major Hollywood films--some Academy Award-winning--yet they were forgotten.Comment:  Natives were wondering if the Oscars would acknowledge Russell Means. The answer was no. Once again there were no Indians in view at the Oscars.

I don't know if Helmsley and Summer belonged there. They were well-known but not as movie people. But Ontiveros and Means arguably belonged.

For more on the problems with this year's Oscar ceremony, see Sexism at the 2013 Oscars. For more on the Oscars, see Blackface at the Oscars and No Indians at the 2011 Oscars.

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