Since we’re talking about movies, this is – to borrow the title of a recent one – much ado about nothing.
That’s why the Rev. Al Sharpton should chill out and re-think his demand for an “emergency meeting” over the presumed snub of the movie “Selma.”
Was the movie good, were the actors great?
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Should they have received more Academy Awards nominations?
Is the snub worth – and here’s a phrase from a famous movie – going to the mattresses over? (That’s from “The Godfather.”)
Most indisputably, indubitably not, and pursuing a meeting – to accomplish what, dear Al? – to berate the Academy detracts both from the movie and from whatever admiration Sharpton deserves for fearlessly focusing attention on really serious issues, such as those involving unarmed black dudes being killed by cops.
“Selma” not receiving more nominations is not a tragedy of that magnitude, nor is the lack of diversity in Hollywood in front of or behind the cameras. Just like Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee, John Singleton and now Ava Duvernay, among others, black, Latino and Asian directors have shown they can make their own movies and don’t need validation from Oscar.
Stories, not awards, are prize
Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of African and African-American history at Duke University, author and incisive social critic, said he thought Sharpton’s efforts were “ridiculous,” even if, by some miraculous chance, he were able to get a new vote.
“I wouldn’t want an award that would come out of that process, from someone with political aspirations demanding a level playing field,” Neal said. “That’s why it’s important that we develop our own art and mechanisms to determine what’s best in our art.”
He called the movie “great filmmaking and the acting was outstanding, but we have to understand that the Academy Awards is political. We tell the stories we want to tell and that – not awards – is the victory.”
Right on. Include me out of the harshest criticism of Sharpton, because I, too, was angry enough to go to Hollywood and demand a meeting with somebody after such celluloid triumphs as “Truck Turner,” “Slaughter’s Big Rip-off,” and “Blacula” received nary an Oscar nomination between them during the 1970s.
In a published interview last week, Sharpton said, “I have called an emergency meeting early next week in Hollywood with the task force to discuss possible action around the Academy Awards.”
He didn’t say of whom this task force is composed, but it’s likely foot soldiers who’ve been with him when he combated deadly discrimination or other serious social ills that needed attention.
Please, no sympathy statuettes
It’ll be interesting to hear the phone conversation when Sharpton, who has asked people to man and woman the front lines against police brutality, tells them he wants them to go to Hollywood to protest a movie not being suitably honored.
Any general who leads his troop into battle must have a goal, a desired outcome. Does Sharpton think the Academy voters are going to go, “Gee, Al, how’d we overlook that wonderful film? Guys, let’s hold another vote”?
T’ain’t gonna happen. What may happen, though, is that Academy voters will withhold votes for “Selma” in the two categories for which it was nominated.
Equally bad is the possibility that they will vote for it for that reason, and a very fine movie will be stigmatized as the recipient of a sympathy statuette, something to shut up Sharpton.
As boneheaded and unproductive as Sharpton’s march on Hollywood will be, I have to admit that, if he ever marches on Hollywood to demand that Rudy Ray Moore posthumously receive an Oscar for “Disco Godfather” – “an unparalleled cinematic masterpiece,” one critic (OK, that was just me) said – I’ll be right there with him.