The fallout from Oscar’s all-white acting nominees continue — with Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to announce they plan to boycott the awards ceremony.
“The Academy has the right to acknowledge whoever they choose, to invite whoever they choose. ... It’s our responsibility now to make the change,” Pinkett Smith says in her video. “Maybe it is time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge in ways that we see fit.”
From Lee’s Instagram: “My wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee and I will not be attending the Oscar ceremony this coming February. We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs and The Academy. But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?”
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#Oscarssowhite, #BoycottTheOscars and #OscarsBoycott are all Twitter hashtags.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement, saying she is “heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion.”
But what exactly is the problem? And is a boycott going to effectively address the issue?
KC’s Don Cheadle got into a fairly civilized discussion on Twitter about it. He points out how the Oscars are just part of Hollywood’s money machine. He considers the awards a “silly contest.”
Then there’s Janet Hubert, who played Will Smith’s Aunt Vivian on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” In response to Pinkett Smith’s video, she also invoked MLK Day and called out Pinkett Smith’s argument for not being deep enough.
Hubert also seemed to still harbor resentment toward Pinkett Smith for something that happened during “Fresh Prince.” Evidently, Hubert said the show’s actors asked Will Smith to negotiate higher salaries for the crew (“like they did on ‘Friends,’ like white shows do”) and she recalls Pinkett Smith telling them: “My deal is my deal and y’all’s deal is y’all’s deal.”
The problem, Hubert says, is that the Smiths are “part of the system.”
“You have a huge production company ... so you are a part of Hollywood. You are a part of the system that is unfair to other actors. So get real.”
That drives home an issue far deeper than not enough black Oscar nominees, and one that illuminates the problem with Pinkett Smith asking black Hollywood to “pull back our resources.”
Note this King quote that gets at the heart of the “Fresh Prince” story Hubert told: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
And it’s probably why Cheadle is not boycotting the show, and instead wants the world to watch host Chris Rock take on Hollywood.
Rock has already started.