February 28, 2016
THE OSCARS AREN’T RACIST – THEY’RE STUCK IN THE PAST, Patrick T. Brown posits at Acculturated:
Hollywood, as an industry, had its peak of creativity and influence during the middle of the last century and now sees its stature declining. Returning to mid-20th-century dramas and stories of institutional decline is a two-way mirror that studio executives can’t look away from. Looking back, they remember their glory days of being unchallenged tastemakers and cultural arbiters. At the same time, they see their declining influence foreshadowed in the lost luster of other former titans, such as newspapers, Wall Street titans, and can-do government agencies.
This fading hold on popular culture is seen in the endless iterations of movie franchises. The overwhelming glut of superhero sequels isn’t just indicative of a lack of imagination – it’s an admission that studios are rarely able to bring attendees to theaters without a “pre-sold” property. In the age of iPhones and Netflix, movie releases with Happy Meal tie-ins keep the lights on; and movies that trace the decline of once-powerful institutions are nominated for golden statuettes.
Meanwhile, its grievance-mongers are also holding on to a fading past, as Kevin D. Williamson recently noted:
The activists will never be satisfied, because being unsatisfied — being outraged — is their business. It’s a good business: Universal Studios’ “chief diversity officer” holds the rank of executive vice president. The money in the diversity racket is big: Google is spending $150 million to increase the diversity in its work force, in which whites are slightly underrepresented while Asians are dramatically overrepresented — again, if we’re using U.S. demographics for our point of comparison. And it is by no means clear that we should: Google, like Hollywood, is global.
There is a certain irony to our historical moment: At the very moment when a black American family has reached the apex of American social life — the presidency, and a cute movie about their first date! — African Americans are as a group experiencing a stressful disorientation: The racial dynamic in the United States was, for many years, effectively binary. Not any more. In an increasingly multiracial society whose most prestigious institutions are truly global, African Americans are no longer the moral yardstick by which the American commitment to our liberal founding ideals is measured. In 30 years, it very well may be the case that African Americans are no more of a significant interest group than Vietnamese Americans or Norwegian Americans, and the social and economic success of Nigerian American immigrant families, among others, complicates the meaning of “African American” as a concept, in that these communities are likely to maintain a certain distinctiveness that renders “black” devoid of clear meaning.
That is a big, attractive lever for the Al Sharptons of the world to let go of, which is why we’ll see more #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite rather than less, even as the question becomes less significant nationally.
In a classic example of a blue-on-blue faux-protest, Comcast spokesman and NBC anchor Al Sharpton will be holding a ‘Tune Out Presser’ ahead of tonight’s Oscars.
I’ll avoid the middleman and tune both out, particularly since Hollywood’s retrograde views on race won’t be the only hypocrisy on display tonight: Celebrities to Wear Gun Control Bracelets at Oscars While Surrounded by Massive Increase in Armed Security.