Roger L. Simon

Oscar Report: Al Sharpton Calls Me a Racist!

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The central scrutinizer on the set.

Maybe it’s actually a badge of honor — after all Sharpton himself makes Bull Connor seem like Martin Luther King — but the Rev Al has called me a racist because I am one of those (white!) Academy members who did not vote for Selma as an Oscar nominee.  I cannot tell a lie.  He’s right.  Not only that, I did not vote for the movie for screenplay either, the only other category for which I can nominate, since I am in the writers branch.

Of course, it was a group accusation.  Al didn’t come to my house or anything, not that I would have let him in.  But I do acknowledge my vote publicly, although it’s a secret ballot taken online, known only to the Academy and fifty thousand North Korean hackers.  On my behalf,  I will say I only nominated three films (Birdman, Boyhood and The Imitation Game) instead of the permissible ten.  I’m one of those elite snobs who thinks nominating ten films for best picture is the cinematic equivalent of grade inflation. (Also, I’m easily bored.)

Nevertheless, it was a bit depressing to wake up this morning to find myself accused of racism on the top of Drudge.  I tried to tweet Matt the truth that I voted for Twelve Years a Slave last year — I thought maybe he’d put something up — but didn’t get an answer. So I’m stuck.

But I have bad news for Al.  I’m not going to pay him one penny to get one of his pseudo-papal absolutions saying I’m not really a racist (even though I was in the civil rights movement and a financial backer of the Black Panthers, to my ever-lasting shame).  He’s going to have pay his millions of back taxes by himself when the Republicans take the presidency, as people like him and the jihadists are making it likely they will.

And as for Chris Rock, who is also complaining about the white skin privilege or whatever of the Oscar voting and general Hollywood behavior (mostly in excluding Chris Rock),  I have news for him.  Some years ago I wrote for and worked with his most famous  predecessor in African-American comedy, a certain Richard Pryor. And Richard was wildly more talented than you, Chris.  You see, some of us old white guys vote for talent and accomplishment, not skin color.  I know that doesn’t fit in with your narrative or whatever you want to call it, but as anyone who has worked in Hollywood knows, it all comes down to the ol’ box office-arooney.  Blame whoever you want, but Pryor got them into the theater in his time like nobody else around.  Chris Rock doesn’t.  End of story, whether you’re black, white or heliotrope.

Now back to Sharpton.  The big deal on the Drudge Report this morning was a link to the Hollywood Reporter with a complaint that no acting awards for black people at the Oscars this year showed a lack of “diversity.” Sacré bleu! Let me tell you what this old lefty thinks of “diversity.”  Diversity IS racism.  It’s the biggest shuck to come down the pike since, well, Al Sharpton. It divides people and turns them into objects, but that’s probably over your (meaning Al’s) head, so I’ll leave it at that.

But I will add this.  I’m shocked anybody cares who wins the Oscars anymore.  At least Al Sharpton does, or says he does.  We should be grateful for that.