Oscars After Thoughts
by Elaine Watkins
Over the years the Oscars have turned into more than just candy for eyes of the rich and famous. It has grown beyond the worst and best dressed pre-shows and features scattered through media. Finally in its 79 year history the Oscars now offers us, as African Americans, a show we can tune into with hopes of seeing our own being (finally) justly honored for their hard work and talent.
In recent years we have seen the likes of Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, and most recently Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker walk away with Hollywood's most distinguishing award. But in these moments of gratification we cannot forget the brick-layers. Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls Aside for the recent hype surrounding the colored winners of our time we must Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirlsremember the Dorothy Dandridges (the first Black actress nominated for supporting actress in 1954) and the Sidney Poitiers (winner for best actor in 1963.) If it were not for them, and the many overlooked, but deserved nominees such as James Earl Jones, Cicly Tyson, and Diana Ross we would still be the under recognized talent that we are in media.
While it is easy for us to be satisfied with the recent wins our community has secured, I would like to bring to the forefront an underlying issue that won’t heed from my conscience. Why, with all the different roles in all the variety of genres, are we usually only recognized for films dealing with entertainment (i.e. Hustle and Flow, Ray, and Dream Girls.) Are we not adequately talented to be regularly honored for our work in dramas (Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness or Don Cheadle for Hotel Rwanda), Action/Comedy (Samuel Jackson for Pulp Fiction or Eddie Murphy for Nutty Professor or Beverly Hills Cop) or Science Fiction (Michael Clark Duncan in The Green Mile?) Now, this is not a new question, or one that hasn't been discussed. Among the many reasons cited for the lack of recognition for our own, is the vast segregation amongst the voting party of the Academy. This along with the stigmatic roles left to our females that will almost always go unrecognized, we are virtually shut out.
Even though it is easy for us to point the finger of blame on others, some responsibility should also fall onto our shoulders. When was the last time, on a whole, our people have gone out and supported our actors in movies like Hotel Rwanda over films like Get Rich or Die Tryin’? Although a trip to the movies is no more than a few hours of entertainment for some, our movie choices can mean the difference of nominee and winner.
It is easy to complain and theorize the reasons for inequality, but it takes unity and effort to be proactive. If we begin to take the time to support our actors in movies that can make a difference, the Academy will have no choice but to listen to us and it will be only a matter of a short while before we begin to see our folks walk away with more than just one or two awards per year.
Elaine Watkins is the Editor-in-Chief of The Urban Book Source.
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