2017 Oscars of Color
PSA: I am inclined to announce immediately and directly that in no way shape or form did this article originate with the intention to take away any credit/shine/glory/respect earned and deserved by this years Academy Award winners of Color. Instead, this article was simply meant to spark alternative perspectives to timeless hegemonic narratives. I am fully aware that when offering a critically contrarian perspective — particularly in the field of race — in reference to topics generally and (sub)consciously agreed upon by the popular culture, one can and is often dismissed. Therefore it is with tremendous sincerity but even greater hesitancy that I write about the 2017 Academy Awards through a Critical Race lens.
Every year I try my best to avoid the Academy Award take over due to its historical absence of inclusivity and its misguided efforts of promoting and sensationalizing all the attributes that make us admire a superficial society. However, no matter how hard I tried to detach myself by watching one documentary after another, I couldn’t help but notice through mobile alerts that news outlets all over social media made a concerted effort to publicize how the inclusion of people of color in this year’s winners circle could be championed on a Civil Rights level. With that in mind, I also couldn’t help but wonder if this years Oscars ceremony was a strategically reactive response to last years proactive criticism via #OscarsSoWhite.
In an age where participation trophies define a generation, the 2017 Academy Awards seems to have taken a page right out of our local sports camps having demonstrated the ability to establish an all inclusive narrative that all but a year ago was abhorrently absent. This strategic change of opinion and direction by the academy only served to encourage my suspicions of whether the Oscars were really evolving or if this would be an opportune moment for the Academy to promote some sort of self-interest while providing the platform to stage multiculural photo ops. When taking into account the glaring absence of inclusivity at last years award ceremony — and the vociferous backlash of the #OscarsSoWhite movement — seeing this years efforts to be incluvise seemed like a hollywood mission of racial diplomacy. The 2017 #OscarsofColor kind of felt like one big participation trophy to keep communities of color engaged for at least one more year.
I am a firm believer that PROACTIVE efforts to equalize, harmonize and Justice-ize our society by individuals and organizations should be fully recognized and rewarded as proactivity demonstrates a sort of self-consicous awareness that is then manifested by literal efforts and gestures to create change. However, there is a very thin line between proactive and REACTIVE gestures/efforts. Reactive efforts originate in a feeling that seeks to address or at least provide a response to a situation or event that precedes the reactive action. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but walk away feeling like the 2017 Academy Awards was more of a reactive response to the #OscarsSoWhite of a year ago than a changing of the guard in Hollywood politics.
When we consider the proactive/reactive politics in our every day lives we can start to deconstruct how the proactive actions taken by individuals seeking to make the world a better place are triggered/originate in authenticity; a desire to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Meanwhile, reactive actions taken by individuals seeking to make the world a better place is triggered by the need to respond to an act or event that originally identified the blemishes of the world we live in but now must be addressed to appease the masses and move “forward.”
With that said, I extend my thoughts to you and ask…were the Oscar’s proactively inclusive or reactively rewarding?