Here’s what the SAG Awards did right
Last week’s SAG Awards was perhaps the most talked about SAG Awards ceremony in a while, if not ever.
Following the controversy over the lack of minority actors in this year’s Oscar nominations, the Screen Actors Guild recognized four African American winners. Granted, most of the winners were in the television categories, but it was clear that the awards ceremony was trying to make a statement in the wake of the trending Twitter hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite.
Indeed, diversity is a huge problem in the film industry. While television seems to be basking in another golden age with its wildly complex female antiheroes, homosexual story-lines that reject traditional LGBT stereotypes, and a plethora of shows with minority leads, the film industry seems to suffering from a dearth of rich stories that celebrate diversity.
However, that is only part of the problem. Neither an increase in more diverse screenwriters and directors nor the hiring Halle Berry to be the lead in a movie over Sandra Bullock solves much.
The problem is simply that films with African American actors tend to cater more towards an African American audience. There are exceptions, of course. “Straight Outta Compton” was a massive worldwide hit as well as a critical favorite, and many (including myself) are surprised that the film did not receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. In spite of the film’s success, it can be argued that nominating a biopic of an iconic rap group would have created even more controversy for the Academy. After all, when rap-themed “Hustle and Flow” received surprise nominations back in 2005, Academy elitists scoffed and questioned the integrity of the Oscars.
On the other hand, the Academy has offered awards to “black” films. For example, “12 Years a Slave,” won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, Lupita Nyong’o. That film, however, took place during the bygone era of slavery. I’m not suggesting that the Academy is racist to that high of a degree, or racist at all for that matter. I’m suggesting that the greater issue is the fact that the Academy prefers substance over style. “Straight Outta Compton” was a studio film made on a large budget that appealed to a large audience—larger than the studio may have anticipated. “12 Years a Slave” generated critical buzz over box office revenue, thereby capturing the Academy’s love.
“Creed” and “Concussion,” two films that many felt should have earned their leading men Oscar nods, were produced on a higher budget as well. Bottom line, regardless of how well the movies end up doing at the box office, the Academy has an elitist mindset over which films get nominated.↑ Back to top