What Does White Hollywood Have To Say About Diversity?
Ever since Jada Pinkett Smith announced to the world that she (and later her hubby) would not be making an appearance at this year’s Academy Awards, the mainstream media has been scrambling to find out what the rest of Hollywood thinks about it.
And while most are keeping tally on how many Black stars will or will not attend the event, the most interesting responses to #OscarsSoWhite have come by way of White Hollywood.
So in the interest of keeping tabs on them (so we know whose films to support and not support in the future) as they do on us, I have decided to create a list.
I know: It sounds like a Late Night With Jimmy Kimmel sketch. And while I can’t guarantee that it will be as funny as a Kimmel sketch, let’s not act like Kimmel is really that funny to begin with…
Well, let’s start with Charlotte Rampling. You might know her as the head doctor with the spooky eyeballs on Showtime’s Dexter or the British lawyer with the spooky eyeballs on the Netflix favorite Broadchurch. But did you also know that Rampling is also a real life racism denier – with spooky eyeballs?
According to the Guardian UK, Rampling shared with a French radio station her feelings on the issue of diversity when it comes to the Oscar nominations. In particular noting:
“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” added Rampling. Asked if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should introduce quotas, a proposal which no current advocate of increased diversity has mooted, she responded: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ … someone will always be saying ‘You are too’ [this or that] … But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”
Rampling has since walked back the comments, saying that she was misinterpreted. But honestly, it is too late. We all could look and tell something dark was hidden behind those eyes of hers. Little did we know that it is just good old normalized bigotry.
What can you say about Dustin Hoffman that hasn’t already been said? He has played an autistic man with a gambling addiction. He has played an ugly woman. And when it comes to questions about racism in Hollywood, Hoffman is playing the role of the old single-minded Hotep who feels everything is a distraction from the real issues.
More specifically, he told CNN:
“Our country, there’s a subliminal racism that’s been there, you know, and the end of the civil war didn’t change that. It’s only been 200 years. I mean this is just an example of it. Rather than Black entertainers being nominated, there is a bigger problem with young Black individuals being killed on our streets by White police.”
No telling if Hoffman, who feels like we should be worried about more important things, plans to join any of the Black Lives Matter protests or jumpstart his own at the upcoming Oscar ceremonies.
I bet you the star and critically acclaimed writer of Two Days in Paris and Two Days in New York wishes she had been any place other than the diversity in Hollywood panel during the Sundance Film Festival last week.
Especially after saying this, according to TheWrap:
“Two years ago, I said something about the Academy being very white male, which is the reality, and I was slashed to pieces by the media,” she told TheWrap’s Jeff Sneider. “It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward.”
She’s right, though: No one says anything to us. We would just get blackballed and disinvited to sh-t, like the Oscars.
Anyway, Delpy has since apologized for the comments, claiming that she was misunderstood and that anyone who knows her knows that she is not racist and blah, blah, blah…
You know, there is a reason I love me some George Clooney. And this statement might be it. As he told Variety:
“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?
I think we have a lot of points we need to come to terms with. I find it amazing that we’re an industry that in the 1930s, most of our leads were women. And now a woman over 40 has a very difficult time being a lead in a movie. We’re seeing some movement. Jennifer Lawrence and Patricia Arquette have made the loud pronouncement about wage disparity, have put a stamp on the idea that we got to pay attention. But we should have been paying attention long before this. I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough. I think that’s absolutely true.
Let’s look back at some of the nominees. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: “Creed” could have gotten nominations; “Concussion” could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for “Beasts of No Nation;” and “Straight Outta Compton” could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with “Selma” director Ava DuVernay — I think that it’s just ridiculous not to nominate her.
But honestly, there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
Swoon...but again, no telling how Clooney personally plans on stepping up outside of making another Ocean’s movie. And without Bernie Mac…meh.
You know how you have the one White ally friend who is all like “Yeah man, fudge whitey and the anti-Black repressive regime. Let’s go tear down White supremacy. For the people, man…” And then when the heat goes down, he goes from sounding like Malcolm X from Harlem to Josh from the suburbs?
Well, that’s sort of what happened with Mark Ruffalo. You see, Ruffalo told BBC that not only does he feel that America is rife with “white privilege racism” but he was seriously weighing not showing up to the Academy Awards ceremony, although he is nominated because that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted him to do.
More specifically he said:
“The good people who don’t act are much worse than the people, the wrongdoers, who are purposely not acting. And don’t know the right way.”
Well, after a half-morning of publicists likely telling him where he could go with his “what would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would” do solidarity pledge, Ruffalo quickly got on Twitter and changed his tune. He said that he is not only going to the Academy Awards, but he would be attending for “victims of clergy Sexual Abuse and good journalism,” as his film Spotlight, is about both.
Yeah right. For the victims.
Must be nice to pick and choose when you can be “good people.”
What can you say about Danny DeVito? He is short, funny-looking and one-half of my favorite couple in Hollywood (seriously, aren’t DeVito and Rhea Perlman the cutest non-Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis couple ever?).
But did you know that DeVito does not mix words about why Hollywood lacks diversity?
More specifically he told the AP:
“It’s unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country,” DeVito told the Associated Press. “This is one example of the fact that even though some people have given great performances in movies, they weren’t even thought about. We are living in a country that discriminates and has certain racist tendencies. So, sometimes it manifests in things like this, and it’s illuminated. But just generally speaking, we’re a bunch of racists.”
Right on, little man. Right on.
Also, no word on what DeVito plans to do about it, but I highly doubt he was invited to the Oscars in the first place.
John Krasinski is probably best known for playing the cynical Jim Halpert on TV’s The Office. But when it comes to diversity in Hollywood, Krasinski has been really straightforward.
And as he told the AP:
“Yeah I think the lack of diversity is a huge shame, and it’s a big problem. I think everyone has the right to be upset as they are because they should. And I think that it is something that we should pay attention to. But my feelings are beyond the Oscars though I think it is a shame, I don’t know if they should be taking all of the responsibility. I think in our industry and in our business, certainly, I think it’s really about looking to who’s telling what story, who’s being allowed to direct, who’s being allowed to act in it. I think that needs to change. I think that more diverse roles there are for directors, actors, writers, producers, on every level, the better our business is. So, that’s where I think the changes need to start.”
Again, no telling how Krasinski is looking to facilitate this “change.”
Probably the most ironic of responses to the Hollywood diversity problem comes by way of Girls creator Lena Dunham who wrote on Instagram:
“Being at Sundance on the narrative jury with some really smart folks, watching a wide range of films with a wide range of perspectives, is a reminder of how necessary diverse representation truly is. The conversation happening around the Oscars is essential and overdue. It is not disrespectful to the current nominees. It is not an indictment of any one actor. It is a call to action for our industry to change the way we work on every single level. As someone who has been on the receiving end of criticism about diversity, the only thing I know for sure is that our job is to listen- not to defend ourselves. What’s to defend?”
Well, what a thoughtful response. And I am glad that she recognizes her own part in being both the problem and the solution. Now let’s see how this newfound awareness translates into the next season of Girls. And sleeping with a Black dude does not count.
What can we say about Matt Damon?
He is a fine actor. He is a member of the Academy. And he once told a Black casting director about diversity on his show Project Greenlight saying, “When we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.”
But the Oscar-nominated actor and writer of Good Will Hunting is singing a different tune now that his name is nowhere near the center of the controversy.
And as he safely told Us Weekly:
“You know, it’s shameful and embarrassing,” Damon, 45, told Us on the red carpet of the Manchester By the Sea premiere at Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah. “There’s two years in a row that there are no people of color nominated. That’s insane.”
Is it really insane Damon? Or is it by design? One that you have actively taken part in?
If ever there was a person smart and strong enough to single-handily fix Hollywood’s diversity issue, surely it would be Harry Potter. Then again, there weren’t that many Black kids admitted into Hogwarts. I guess we have to protest that next…
But as the real-life Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, told E! News:
“I suppose in a way it’s already been effective because there has been a reaction in terms of the Academy working on changing their policy,” the Harry Potter star told me at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of his new indie Swiss Army Man (more on that later).
“It’s the start of a conversation that feels like we shouldn’t need anymore because particularly in this industry, we think of ourselves as being liberal [and] very progressive,” he said. “We need to put our money where our mouth is.”
Right on! That’s why I was hoping that in the next Potter film, Harry would lead a Black Lives Matter protest to get some Voodoo and Santeria houses at the Academy.
Maybe in the Black version…
So with all that being said, what have we learned from this list of White actors and their responses to #OscarSoWhite?
Absolutely nothing. But I hope you enjoyed reading this round-up anyway.