The Academy of Motions Pictures said this week that it does not condone violence in any form and that it would be investigating the Will Smith/Chris Rock incident. The Academy implied one of its options would be stripping Smith of his Best Actor win.
That action proves that when Will and Jada Pinkett Smith boycotted the Oscars in 2016, they weren’t wrong. The Academy was racist then and still is.
I’m not going to discuss whether Will Smith was justified in his actions. I believe he was and discuss it here.
And I’m only briefly going to address the varied comments from Black friends, celebrities, and other Black voices who argued whether white people should be commenting at all.
Elie Wiesel said it best, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
So while I cannot understand the depth of Jada’s pain over losing her hair or the fear that this incident will be fuel for more racists to argue the Black people are more prone to violence, I can say without question that the Academy of Motion Pictures is RACIST and must be changed.
History of Racism
The first Black person to be nominated for and win and Oscar was Hattie McDaniel, in Gone with the Wind in 1939. Hattie was not allowed to sit at the table with white members of the cast and later said ““it was if I had done something wrong.”
Her win may have been used against other Black actors to keep them out of roles and another Black person didn’t win an Oscar until 1964.
And it wasn’t just Black people who suffered at the hands of the Academy and its membership. In 1973, actress and civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather was openly mocked by Clint Eastwood and security prevented John Wayne from physically attacking her. There was no Academy investigation into either of their actions.
History of Violence
The Academy has a history of ignoring violence against women in awarding Oscars. Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse of women in Hollywood helped fuel the #MeToo movement, but he still has Oscars.
Roman Polanski and Jared Leto have exhibited predatory relationships with young girls but have been lauded by the Academy. Casey Affleck an others have settled sexual assault lawsuits against them and still won Oscars.
Numerous people who have won awards over the years have been accused of domestic violence and Academy darling Woody Allen is all kinds of problematic.
Apparently, violence against women is not in the “all types of violence” that the Academy refuses to tolerate. I have yet to hear them demand that Chris Rock apologize to Jada for his abusive “joke” made at her expense.
Given that, it would appear the Academy also doesn’t care about violent against people with chronic illnesses. And if you are saying Rock’s attack was “just verbal,” you need to review what abuse and violence look like.
The Will Smith Incident
Given that all these white men who have been abusive to women still have their Oscars, I can only conclude that either the Academy is misogynistic and only considers violence to be bad when it is against another man.
Or, I can conclude that since all the other abusers who still have their Oscars are white, the Academy of Motion Pictures is racist. Given their lack of diversity in awards for decades, this seems to be the occam’s razor.
But it is just as likely that both are true.