#OscarsSoWhite was the number one trending topic on Twitter that caught fire after the Oscar nominations were announced. It mainly started as many people commented about how there is little to no color in this year’s nominees. Many people have also commented on how they felt “Selma” was snubbed, as critics have stated how David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was Oscar worthy.
Could this even be considered an Oscar snub?
Maybe the reason also depends on the material that the actors and actresses received were better than the roles and story lines that African American actors received.
This #OscarsSoWhite snub can’t be a snub for the African American entertainers as much as it is a reflection of how movie roles and characters are limited for African American actors and actresses. Most of the roles that are offered to African American actors and actresses portray the same stereotype of what society and the media constantly want to reinforce.
Most of the African American Academy Award winners won playing the part of a maid (Hattie McDaniel and Octavia Spencer), an abusive mother (Halle Berry and Mo’nique), and a slave (Lupita Nyong’o).
As one can see, the roles for an African American actress are really limited in what they are given to work with. The constant portrayals of maids, slaves, and abusive mothers directly influence the community as many young African American females view these actresses as role models, which can reinforce the idea about how African American communities should live.
Hollywood needs to open up more varieties of roles that African American entertainers can win, so many young African American children can have more positive role models to look up to. Instead, many children see the gangbangers, the drug dealers, the prostitutes, the crackheads, the abusive parents, and other negative portrayals.
Society continuously wants better role models for children, yet nothing is being done to change the perception of these negative portrays unless Hollywood gives colored entertainers better variety of roles to portray.
“When there’s a consensus that has to be made by a certain group, “ explained Ava DuVernay, “Selma” director, “the consensus is most likely going to be made through a specific lens.”
“Selma” was the only movie with people of color to even be in the consideration of Oscar-worthy performances, which DuVernay noted. “Why was “Selma” the only film that was even in the running with people of color for the award? You know what I mean? I mean, why are there not — not just black, brown people? You know what I mean? Asian people, indigenous people, representations that are more just one voice, just one face, just one gaze?,” questioned DuVernay.
There is much diversity in the world, but wouldn’t be reflected on the silver screen as most movies don’t include diversity in the leading roles, often the minorities in the supporting roles.
If young children want to one day win an Academy Award, should they be encouraged to portray these negative stereotypes, or should we award them for breaking the norm and acting to the best of their ability?
Article by staff writer Jody Johnson