Thursday, 26 February 2015


by Guy Somerset

If one desires equality, one cannot have individuality. The two cancel each other out. Either basic pigment is celebrated or else talent. If you want the former, just watch the NAACP Image Accolades (you’ll be about the only person who does), while if you want the latter (theoretically, at least) watch the Academy Awards.

Yet, given that we now live in a “post-racial society,” the apprehension that too many Oscar nominees were Caucasian saw the recent gathering hailed as a virtual Klan rally of our entertainment industry.

Despite relentless claims that this was the “whitest Oscars ever,” it quite simply wasn’t. As a matter of fact, it was the most insistently diverse ceremony to date. While some may dissent, due to the lack of specific contenders of color, allow me to make my case by reviewing the entire revue…

Lot of white in those eyes.
Virtually every notable cameo throughout the evening featured a black man or black woman. Octavia Spencer was chosen “at random” to appear on screens nearly as much as host Neil Patrick Harris in the distinctly un-funny gag of guarding his Oscar picks for the night.

Incidentally, was I the only person who thought Chiwetel Ejiofor was black? Clearly I was mistaken because he was a constant presence throughout the four hours of the “whitest Oscars ever,” so that couldn't have been true.

Viola Davis also, a noted speaker at the event, looked remarkably like an African-American to most viewers. Terrence Howard, who has never had a boulder on his shoulder over race, was also a presenter.

In terms of musical performers, we heard the ever-caterwauling Jennifer Hudson, shouting out what might have been lyrics, but was more likely a mating call of some sort. I swear this girl is growling the same guttural words every time she opens her mouth, but I’ve never been able to sit through a full delivery, so I am unable to scientifically prove my theory.

We were also “treated” to hip hopper Common (a more apt appellation no singer has ever sported) and John Legend (whose moniker is far less fitting). These two sang a merry little ode to a suspicious thug who stole the private property of law-abiding citizens and in whose wake numerous riots were instigated; a description applying equally to “Gentle Giant” attempted-cop-killer Mike Brown or “Dr.Marxist Luther King. This rendition caused many tears to flow, though for all the wrong reasons.

Whitest Oscars ever? Must be a contrast effect.
A man who ridiculously refers to himself as “Questlove” (aka Ahmir-Khalib Thompson) was there to participate in the formerly-safe-for-children song Everything is Awesome. Ahmir-Khalib is most definitely a man of color who hails from the streets of Philadelphia.

Rita Ora also performed and is Albanian, so black, white, or “other,” take your pick and somebody is bound to agree with you. But on this night she clearly presented as black, which on its own would belie the supposed “white face” of this awards ceremony.

Moreover, for a supposedly Caucasian-centric crowd an astounding number of white women simply couldn’t find an escort of their own race with which to present an award. We had Nicole Kidman (white woman) paired with Chiwetel Ejiofor (black man) and Jennifer Aniston (white woman) conspicuously coupled with David Oyelowo (black man).

To mix things up even more there was Kerry Washington (black woman) thrown together for no otherwise discernible reason with Jason Bateman (white man). Though, getting back to form, we had Idris Elba (black man) towering over Jessica Chastain (white woman). And once again the audience watched as Kevin Hart (black pint-sized man) appeared alongside Anna Kendrick (full-grown white woman).

In what might be referred to as the “Brown Bag Test” of Academy Presenters Zoe Saldana (black woman) took the stage with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (of mixed origin). Again ramping up the dubious nature of things, Jennifer Lopez (Hispanic and probably part-black) spoke with Chris Pine (white man by technicality, later prominently featured weeping for the song from Selma).

About the only white gal who could rustle up a white fella was Idina Menzel who evidently found John Travolta roaming around backstage at the last minute…but before you begin to fret, she gets a pass because until a few months ago Menzel (white woman) was married to a black man.

Planet Hollywood
If one were conspiratorially minded, one might almost think there was some purposeful indoctrination being perpetrated against viewers by specifically featuring so many miscegenistic duos. But of course, 7 of 11 presenting couples being bi-racial (and conspicuously spotlighting white women paired off to black men) only means anything to the paranoids of this world. But no one can deny that there were an awful lot of black faces during “the whitest Oscars ever.”

Speaking of which, this being the “the Whitest Oscars ever,” some were surprised to infer from this that Mexicans are apparently no longer “of color.” As a consequence, several of these newly minted palefaces actually picked up awards.

Whenever anyone speaks out against the wage-depreciation, environmental despoliation, and wealth redistribution via predatory taxation connected to the “Illegal Invasion” from south of the border, those concerns are routinely dismissed as being rooted in “racism.” This deracination is quite a new development, but it is one I happily approve of…if it also means no workplace set-asides, race-based government assistance, or extra-judicial protection under neo-fascist “hate crimes” laws. Although I suspect that, outside of Hollywood, Hispanics will only be reclassified as whites in cases like that of George Zimmerman.

However we needn’t stray into the variegated categories of those who latch onto protected status for every purpose except when they want to win an award. I’ve not the stomach to re-watch what was initially un-watchable, but, by a rough estimate, black faces were onstage for at least two of the approximately four hours, and probably longer. Thus, even discounting Hispanics and assorted “others,” these Academy Awards were obviously far from anything remotely resembling a “white out.”

Should one need any more proof of that truth, Neil Patrick Harris was wide awake and back on the Dolby Theatre stage to kvetch about the Oscars the next morning. He did so on the program Kelly & Michael…which features a demure blonde woman and a hulking black man.

Love it or loathe it, one thing you can say of the Hollywood vision for America the plot adheres to a very consistent theme.

Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America. He is a lawyer by profession.

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