Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pompously announced they will not be attending the Oscars because no best-acting nominee is black. In a YouTube video, Jada declared, "Begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power." One of the funnier memes on the Internet presents an aerial view of the sprawling $42 million Smith mansion in Malibu (with pool, tennis court and basketball court) to clash with the notion of racist Hollywood.
It was completely predictable that gay actor Ian McKellen would get in the belly-aching parade, complaining no openly gay actor has won the Oscar, spurring headlines lamenting that "Homophobia is as much a problem as racism in Hollywood." If anyone thinks that in 2016, Hollywood is a hotbed of almost-biblical protests of homosexuality, even as "cisgender" actor Eddie Redmayne is nominated for best actor for playing a "transgender pioneer," there's been too much medical marijuana in the air.
Just two years ago, NPR television critic Eric Deggans sat on a politically correct cloud nine. The Oscars broadcast ended with black director Steve McQueen accepting a best picture Oscar for "12 Years a Slave." Lupita Nyong'o won best actress for that film, and John Ridley won the best adapted screenplay award.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron was the first Latino to win best director for "Gravity," and Robert Lopez was hailed as the first Filipino-American to win best song for the anthem "Let It Go" from "Frozen."
The show was hosted by lesbian comic Ellen DeGeneres and the top male acting prizes went to Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyers Club," about the early spread of AIDS. Deggans asked back then: "But amid all the celebration of diversity in a movie industry where such notions too often seem a second thought, a new concern arises: Can this progress last?"
Apparently, that was not enough. Truth is, nothing will ever be enough. This industry lives to cry for the oppressed.
The only "progressive" solution is for an affirmative action Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to create nomination "set-asides" so that no category excludes racial minorities, gays, transgenders and perhaps actors who are "in the country illegally."
The Oscar nominations are decided by a loose democracy of almost 7,000 people. The Academy tried to stuff the ballot boxes by adding hundreds of minorities to the voting body in the last year, but it wasn't enough. Quotas might be the next step. If America can't be trusted to avoid racism without quotas, why should Hollywood?
It's only natural that liberal Hollywood should punish itself. The problem is that is both the oppressor and the victim. Maybe eventually someone will be infected with a case of common sense. Don't count on it. This is the world of make-believe.
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