​Tavis Smiley: Hollywood is getting it wrong

The lack of racial diversity among tonight's Oscar nominees has provoked a lot of controversy -- a controversy that's attracted the attention of author and PBS host Tavis Smiley:

Since the Academy Award nominations were announced last month, there have been myriad protest hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite, and calls for a boycott of tonight's telecast.

Let me confess right up front, that I do intend to watch, for two reasons: Chris. Rock.

Are you kidding me? This is a comedian's dream, the jokes are practically writing themselves!

But this year's "Black-out" is no laughing matter.

How do we explain that Black folk are winning in music but not film? There's been a disruptive technology in music that allows artists to record, promote and distribute their music -- not so much in film. But, I do think a change is gonna come.

I'm ambivalent about this notion that Black folk have once again been "victimized" by the Academy. Sure, I see a whole lot of Black writing, directing, producing and acting talent being ignored by Hollywood. But Black thespians aren't the only victims. The movie-going public misses out on their artistic gifts, and Hollywood loses out because there's a lot more talent that could be delivering box office as well, given a chance.

What's even harder to square, though, is that an industry as progressive as Hollywood doesn't get that excellence in film comes in a variety pack.

Let's be honest: the LGBT community has gained more ground in Hollywood over the past decade than Black folk have covered in 50 years. Tonight, we'll see actors who've been nominated for portraying gay characters. Kudos! But why so slow to recognize and revel in the humanity and talent of Black actors and actresses?

That said, I'm not fond of the term "snubbed" because if you're snubbed when you lose, what are you when you win? We don't want mediocre to become the new excellence just for the sake of having Black Oscar nominees.

And so we must accept the fact that art is subjective. But we must also accept that there's right and wrong, not just better or worse.

What Hollywood is doing is wrong. We all know it can be better -- not just on Oscar night, but every day.


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