Dear Academy…

This year, there are far too many movies up for best picture. There’s no need to have that many up for the award and my thinking is that if there are that many up for the award, maybe there really weren’t that many movies that really stood out this year. Anyway, there are all kinds of politics and shenanigans working in the background with regards to how the nomination process works and even worse, how the selection process works and if you don’t believe me, check this to get just a minute hint of what I am talking about.  Personally, I enjoyed The Hurt Locker and think it is a worthy option, but if it wins, maybe there’s just a bit more doubt in my head about the process.

But this really isn’t a post about the process around the selections for the Academy Awards, this is more of a post about what I am getting tired of seeing in movies.  I’m sorry, but I am tired of the “white individual saves the minority” scenario.  I really am.  There are so many different things that bother me with it, including the fact that it is just so tired, so lame that even if there is a really good story there (like there is in The Blind Side…a true story at that), I just tune out.  This is now problematic, because not only is there a persistent theme present in (mostly American) film-making that receives continual support and attention, there is also an uneasiness that is created within the viewing public.  I suppose the one positive is that this same viewing public is finally starting to realize some of what they are being fed.

This notion was extended into Avatar this year, where it was brought up on multiple occasions that the saviour theme was once again rearing its ugly head as Sam Worthington’s character saved the people of the planet he had ventured into.  I’m not sure if I completely buy into that argument, since if you have seen the film, Worthington’s character also pretty much makes a complete bloody mess out of their society too.  I mean, if we are going to criticize Avatar, trust me, there are tons of places where things don’t make any sense in this movie (like how can a giant robot that smashes everything from steel to giant trees not knock over a 9′ tall blue guy holding a metal pipe? Or how do arrows that were bouncing off glass and metal at one point in the movie suddenly start piercing those same materials 15 minutes later?  I can go on…).

When this topic comes up, a lot of people roll their eyes and start saying, “Oh, here go the black people again, complaining about something else where they don’t feel they are represented properly”, but to do that is ignoring something that is continually present and problematic.  It’s not only bad for minorities (and not just black people, because the theme runs across various cultural backgrounds), it’s bad for white people and it’s bad for film.  People often argue that a lot of these stories are either true stories or are based on true stories and I am not arguing that.  The point I am making is that there are a lot of other stories out there that need to be told where minorities are in positions of empowerment; where they are not thanking somebody for pulling them out of the streets (The Blind Side), having somebody find their own redemption by improving the life of a group of minorities (Hard Ball), being introduced to “culture” that suddenly opens their eyes to a new way of thinking (Dangerous Minds), the list goes on. 

What also drives me crazy right now is that now that there is a bigger source of funds in the minorty community in Hollywood, what do we typically see when minorities bring their funds together to produce films?  Guns, dancing or complete foolishness.  Nobody wants to say it, but it’s not like minorities are helping themselves right now in Hollywood, at least not to the degree that they should be.  Who is going to represent you (us) properly if you (we) aren’t going to take care of it yourselves (ourselves)?  I know a lot of it comes down to money, but if you keep pushing out the same kind of crap, people are going to continue thinking the same way and if they keep seeing box office results imaging minorities in a certain way, I can damn well guarantee you it will continue.   If you don’t think that people are going to watch movies about minorities in stronger positions, then work on a smaller scale and try to generate buzz with your film around award time like films like Little Miss Sunshine did in 2006/2007.  If you want different results, you have to take a different approach.

I’m hoping Sandra Bullock doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actress.  It’s nothing personal against her, I think she’s just as bad as most of the other actors in Hollywood, but I just don’t want to see this theme supported again.  I know it’s a true story and while I haven’t seen that movie (suspiciously, one of the few nominated for Best Picture that I haven’t seen) and supposedly she does a great job (although I think she looks like a dead ringer for Kathie Lee Gifford in it), I’m just tired of it all.  It has been done before, we’ve seen it, enough, move on, next movie please.

2 Comments »

  1. avatar Wendy Says:

    Agreed.

    In addition, I found this article regarding the black community’s reactions to Precious vs. The Blind Side. Apparently, Blind Side is acceptable, but Precious is not because we don’t want the world to see the horrible side of our cultures. Gangstas, guns and dancing is okay though.

    You are so right about black Hollywood doing little to help itself. Of course, that attitude extends beyond Hollywood, but that’s another story.

  2. avatar Jay Says:

    Precious was brutally difficult to watch, not because of any real identification with the movie, but because of the tremendous performances (especially Mo’nique). But you are right, anything that makes us look like a bunch of fools is okay, but anything that shows the real problems isn’t. It kind of seems like we are doing our own blackface now.

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