Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day

Well the Oscars were last night. I didn't watch because I was working and have lost interest in award shows over the years. But I watched Chris Rock's opening monologue about #OscarsSoWhite, and I'm glad he tackled the issue of Hollywood being "sorority racist", in that white liberals will be nice to you, but still exclude you when it comes to hiring and casting decisions. It's the old boys' club atmosphere. However, I do think he unnecessarily focused only on blacks, not on other minority groups who don't have opportunities, and he was kind of dismissive, saying that blacks never protested this much before because of bigger problems like raping and lynching. I think that's simplistic, because we still have an issue with police brutality now (as shown by the great Black-ish episode last week) but Hollywood still has a diversity issue. I also know that Disney's release of Song of the South in 1946 was widely criticized by the NAACP and others for its racially offensive cliches. So yes, even in the midst of more pressing dangers, it's perfectly legitimate to also criticize pop culture for lesser evils; when wrong-headed enough, some films can become a sort of dangerous propaganda.

There was a recent New York Times article containing interviews from many actors and directors in Hollywood showing how discrimination, sexism, and homophobia still plays a role, keeping many minorities out of power. That's how pervasive "soft racism" is in the system, where people think they're our white liberal allies, but they continue to be unconsciously biased and close-minded. Sure it's entertainment, but it does matter to society, because movies and TV shows carry powerful messages. Why, the Oscars demonstrated it just last night, with all the talk of diversity, and Lady Gaga's performance of a song from a documentary on campus sexual assault. Movies do matter, so don't belittle the issue. And don't groan and be smug idiots like the damn Coen brothers. Sometimes it seems like Hollywood wants to have it both ways, that films are great artistic achievements that touch the soul, yet when criticized, films are just silly fluff and detractors are taking things way too seriously.

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