As an artist, I get the need for recognition, for being acknowledged for the work that you produce, whether it be as a writer, poet, singer, actor, director, etc. When we bare our souls and share our creations with the rest of the world, we all seek, even its tiniest form, some sort of validation. Particularly from those we deem as “professionals or experts” in our respective field of choice.
With that said, why, why, why, do we put so much stock into being validated at the Oscars? Why do Black and Brown artists feel they need the validation of the Academy? I read that the LA Times conducted a study where they spoke with thousands of academy members and their representatives, reviewed academy publications, resumes and biographies, and was successful in confirming the identities of more than 5,100 voters, (more than 89% of voting members).
The Times discovered that the average age of the Oscar voters is 62, (voters under the age of 50 only represent about 14% of the membership) are nearly 94% White and 77% male. Hmm.. Now this really shouldn’t surprise anyone, except for those who still believe that this country is all about fairness and diversity and equal representation.
Now, again, I get it. I get the fact that by having an Oscar trophy you have–in essence– been given the “Golden Ticket” to more roles, more money, more status in Hollywood, blah, blah, blah… But when you think about “Who” is making these decisions of who will be deemed best, and who gets nominated and who doesn’t, why the hell do Black and Brown folks care so much about people who don’t appreciate our art? They don’t get our story and don’t want nor feel the need to acknowledge us. They’ve been doing this since the inception of the Academy Awards, so why are we shocked that Selma didn’t win for Best Picture? Or the fact that Ava DuVernay was not nominated for Best Director? Or David Oyelowo for Best Actor? How many times do we have to be snubbed to get the hint?
The LA Times study revealed how the opinions of the Academy members varied: some members saw the issue being simply the hiring patterns in Hollywood, while others said it reflects the “group’s mission to recognize achievement rather than promote diversity”. Aha! There you go! In other words, acknowledging folks of color is a matter of diversifying, rather than believing you are leaving out an enormous pool of talent to choose from.
Don’t agree with my take on it? Let’s read the words from someone who serves on the Academy Board of Governors. “I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said Pierson, who still serves on the board of governors. “We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it.”
The moral of this blog is to stop putting so much stock on being validated by folks who aren’t truly worthy of judging, appreciating and understanding us. We need to make the awards that we create for Us mean MORE. Those awards should be the pinnacle to what we strive to achieve and obtain. The acknowledgement and validation from OUR peers and those who have an understanding and appreciation for the beauty that we represent is what we need to focus on. That should trump an Oscar nod. Just sayin…