I’ve never really looked up to Hollywood as the benchmark of masterful filmmaking. Capitalist filmmaking, yes. Filmmaking as an art? Not exactly. Most Hollywood filmmakers look at cinema as a piggy bank, not as an art medium.
On the same note, I never really took the Oscars® seriously, it’s mostly just a popularity contest. Oscar® — the tiny, golden, (and probably) naked guy — mostly favors the popular and the money maker, not the artistic. Just think: Hitchcock never won an Oscar.
With (alleged) propaganda film American Sniper getting lots of publicity and attention, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the film wins the major awards at this year’s Oscars.
Last year’s awards ceremony saw 12 Years a Slave gaining some major awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Motion Picture. The film’s Oscar victory gave some glimmer of hope to the African-American community. Finally Oscar is opening his eyes to reality.
Then that glimmer started to dim. Again. This year’s acting nominees are all white. Selma — a Martin Luther King biopic — is nominated for Best Motion Picture, but its lead actor David Oyelowo is not nominated for the Best Actor award, despite being nominated at the Golden Globes.
So what is Oscar trying to say? “I’m moving towards racial equality. No, wait, I’m not really sure.” That’s what.
It’s hard to remember all the Caucasian winners and nominees that have graced the Oscars through the years, mainly because they occupy the large part of Hollywood. Them white actors often get the lead parts in major movies, with African-Americans playing the stereotypical role of the token black guy.
African-American performers don’t get the same opportunities as their white counterparts (may they be American, British, or just white). It has been that way since the 1910s. Hence, it’s more likely for white actors to please Oscar’s eyes and get nominated and eventually win.
On the other hand, it’s a piece of cake to recite all the African-American Oscar winners and nominees, because there are only a few of them compared to Caucasian Oscar winners and nominees.
African-Americans on TV
When I saw Dennis Haysbert as the President on 24, I was convinced that Hollywood — and perhaps America — is now embracing racial equality. (Morgan Freeman also played the President in the movie Deep Impact.) Then Barack Obama won the Presidential election. Twice.
“Yes. So far, so good,” I thought to myself. 2013 gave some hint of hope not just to African-American men, but to African-American women as well: Meagan Good was cast as the lead character in NBC’s Deception. Miss Good played Joanna Locasto, an SFPD investigating the mysterious death of her estranged BFF.
Despite favorable ratings, Deception was cancelled after 11 episodes. Of course its viewers were pissed and discombobulated, not just because it ended on a cliffhanger, but also because audiences can’t help but look at the issue of racism (and probably sexism).
Here’s a show with an African-American actress on the lead, people watch it, most liked it, the show rates, and then it’s cancelled. One can’t help but ask, “Why?“
With shows like Empire and How to Get Away with Murder — both headed by African-American thespians — gaining high ratings, American TV is moving towards racial equality. Again.
So yeah, just like the Oscars, American TV is making that urong-sulong move for the nth time.
The Hollywood Dream: A White Man’s Dream?
So what exactly am I fussing about? Inequality. Racial inequality to be exact. And this isn’t just an American issue, it’s also a worldwide issue.
Philippine showbiz, which is nothing but a cheap imitation of Hollywood, also has its share of racial inequality. Although a Southeast Asian country, Philippines is obsessed about having “the perfect white skin.” Skin whitening TVCs dominate the tube, capitalizing on the racist idea that having dark skin is not as pleasing as having “that rosy white glow.”
And Philippines’ white skin obsession is reflected on its showbiz industry, with fair-skinned celebrities gaining more publicity and fan base.
Hollywood is a fantasy land. Approximately 90% of it is merely fiction. It would only turn into reality once it has both feet toward racial equality; not one foot forward and one foot backward, but both feet forward, as if jumping from the obstacle course of racial inequality.
Until then, African-Americans would always be “the other Americans,” foreigners in their own country.
Glory (Selma OST):
DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don’t own or claim to own any of the photos used.