Academy Awards: When It Comes to Inclusion, The Entertainment Industry Still Lacks Prominent Representation

Photo provided by the Awards Ceremony and the highlights of this year's ceremony.

Photo provided by the Awards Ceremony and the highlights of this year's ceremony.

Janae Polk, Editor-In-Chief

The Academy Awards is a pretty special event, a sentimental night to honor those- actors, actresses, sound boomers, directors, producers and musical conductors alike-who have demonstrated impeccable performance behind or in front of cameras.

The beginning of the year has been hopeful so far in the sense that there have been some phenomenal films making way to the big screens. The iconic “Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler is sure to reign in many Oscars next year, or so I hope; after garnering $1.1 billion in the box office it should be bound to win a few.

A “Wrinkle In Time,” directed by Ava Duvernay received its fair share of acclaim and will contribute to the hope of more representation in Hollywood films.

There’s a culture in the entertainment industry that claims to celebrate inclusivity and while I don’t doubt that notion, I can’t seem to feel anything but ingenuity while watching awards ceremonies.

Jordan Peele, director of “Get Out”, a mystery/thriller film, collecting $255 million in the box office but received great acclaim for its satirical mixture of horror and race. Peele was marked the first African-American to win the “Best Original Screenwriter” category which, for most, is considered a milestone in Black productions.

While the film’s box office records don’t reflect its flawless combination of satire and race, its reputation still holds significant value.

Speaking of the film, Kai Morris, a senior at Da Vinci Communications shared, “I like it because it represents how Black people feel around people who don’t look like them or who don’t share the same experiences as them. In an unconventional way, it added a comedic twist to it but it still preserved that sense of seriousness. It’s a film that emotionally drew people in.”

While watching “Get Out”, one might laugh lightly passing all of the subtle jokes through the film off as “common white rituals,” where white people use phrases such as “You’re good people” or continuously refer to their selective group of Black acquaintances to compensate for their lack of connection towards Black people.

Despite the comedy these phrases might produce, the primary theme is overlooked: race. Peele provided numerous euphemisms and allusions to race in present reality which is remarkable to the cinema.

As far as other nominations, I don’t complain, from reviews and ratings, The Shape Of Water was an interesting film, they don’t lie and neither do critics.

Mark Kermode, an observer film critic for The Guardian, wrote: “Part of its success is the superb ensemble cast: Shannon seething as the scripture-quoting patriot whose world starts rotting from the inside out; Spencer radiating resilience as Zelda, tirelessly tending to the needs of others; Stuhlbarg underplaying nicely as the scientist with lofty aspirations and fluid affiliations.”

It’s true that a well-placed cast is the main contributor to a film’s success, which doesn’t necessarily reflect “Get Out”, but its character’s fluid portrayal of subjugation under the rule of white dominance was surreal, a clear reflection of the brutal entails of our history.

While watching the film a second time for an in-depth analysis, I caught many sudden allusions to race that I hadn’t before. Peele’s ingenious use of the picking of cotton from the armchair under bondage as an ironic path to freedom and the separation of milk and colorful cereal to depict racial separation was clever. His work deserved more acclaim than presented.

Regarding Peele’s Oscar win, Morris went to say, “I feel like they gave it to him like, ‘we finally need a Black representative winning an Oscar,’ so they kind of just like ‘okay, let’s give him this one,’ I feel like all of the work and the thought he put into Get Out exceeded the standards of an Oscar so he should have gotten way more than that one Oscar.”

This isn’t a surprise in major awards ceremonies such as The Oscars, actors and actresses alike preach diversity and inclusion consistently, we slightly see that but the diverse faces shown in major picture films aren’t paid homage for their riveting work.

Noel Ingram, the tenth grade English and Cinematic Arts teacher noticed in the previous Oscar years, representation was greatly lacking.

“They had absolutely no African-American representation at all and there was a lot of talk about that but in this Oscars, there was a significant amount of representation and there was kind of some open dialogue about representation in the industry, which was nice to hear but I also hope it’s not just talk, I hope there’s actual action.”

Amari Smith, a junior at DVC makes a pivotal point in regards to the lack of improving diversity in films, “You recognize some Black faces because there are only a few.”

Yes, Mahershala Ali exalted great performance behind the camera for the Academy Award-winning film Moonlight and their big win for best picture was another huge milestone in Black productions. Whatever the shift is that occurred between last year’s Oscars and this year’s, whether it be a selection of movies, cast or director, Hollywood needs to direct itself to true inclusion, especially of Black stars.

 

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