By Alex Doria
The chatter surrounding the 2016 Oscars finally reached its peak when Chris Rock took the stage at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on February 28th. In appropriately cheeky fashion, Chris Rock was wearing a white suit jacket as he began his candid and carefully structured monologue.
Amongst the punch lines was a very clear message, which echoed Viola Davis’s 2015 Emmy acceptance speech for her lead role in How To Get Away With Murder, and that is the issue of opportunity. Davis said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
So when the Oscars arrive and each nominee looks like the other, we all cannot help but seriously pause when Chris Rock reiterates: “We want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. Not just once. Leo gets a great part every year. All you guys get great parts all the time. But what about the black actors?”
This in a nutshell is why there is such a lack of diversity at the 88th Academy Awards, as well as the many award shows that preceded it; a lack of opportunity. With such a wealth of films, television shows, and multimedia platforms that continually provide new narratives and stories to be told, and for every nominee to be of one race or nationality is a clear display of bias.
When we as a society only celebrate certain narratives and allow bias to dictate our thinking, we not only insult and mistreat a multitude of people of many races and nationalities, but we rob ourselves of experiencing the wonderful talents and creations that they have to offer. This kind of thinking narrows our vision, when if we saw the view more broadly the sight would only become more grand and filled with more beauty.
While it is true that the Oscars and the distribution of awards are a small issue in comparison to the more dire problems that persist in the world, it is also true that we all desire recognition for the good work that we have done, and this includes actors. Everyone who has earned their success deserves their due.
As Kevin Hart stated when he took the stage on Oscar night: “These problems of today will eventually be the problems of old. Let’s not let this negative issue of diversity beat us. Let’s do what we do best and work hard.”
Times change, and so will we. Let us look forward to the years to come when Oscar night is just a night about celebrating amazing films and, if you’re someone like me, ogling all of the gorgeous red carpet fashion.
(Image via abc.go.com)