The Academy Awards nominations flap has been gradually acquiring Ethics Train Wreck Status. Naturally, since it involves race (black artists didn’t get their quota this year, whatever that quota is–it’s a secret quota, but clearly zero isn’t it) and thus an opportunity for him to get some publicity, Al Sharpton weighed in with sputtering outrage, calling for a boycott of the Oscars. Then Spike Lee announced a personal boycott, making no sense in the process, rapidlly followed by Jada Pinkett Smith, who really made no sense, writing,
“Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people. And we are powerful. Let’s not forget it. So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us.”
Gibberish. What is throwing a tantrum and boycotting your industry and profession as it honors itself and your colleagues’ art because the people you really care about—those of the right color, you know— didn’t get a nomination, if it isn’t demanding recognition, which is as pathetic as asking or begging for it, just more obnoxious?
Next her husband, Will Smith, who looks like a poor sport by doing so, followed her lead, muttering inappropriate platitudes. He said, “There is a position that we hold in this community, and if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.” If you say so, Will. Causing racial division in your profession and sabotaging its big self-promotion night is part of what solution, now?
In ethics train wrecks, all passengers live to regret it. Over at Fox News, panelist and former “Clueless” actress Stacey Dash suggested that black actors had nothing to complain about as long as they participated in blacks-only honors, like the BET Awards, and the NAACP Image awards. What was that supposed to mean? That Oscar should be all-white, since there are all-black awards? Is this a plug for separate but equal? Her argument was incoherent, so naturally Donald Trump endorsed it, saying, and I quote, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…” Among the blahs, he noted,
“So over there — the whites don’t get any nominations, or don’t get — and I thought it was an amazing interview, actually. I never even thought of it from that standpoint. But with all of that being said, it would certainly be nice if everybody could be represented properly…”
Trenchant analysis, you moron. Meanwhile, critics of Dash attacked her on irrelevant details rather than the real problem with her statement, pointing out that whites do get nominated for the BET Awards, and the NAACP Image awards. So what? That enhances Dash’s point: there ware more white artists than blacks nominated, even though there are more white artists. Why? They are biased awards, by definition. But they neither justify nor invalidate the complaints about the all-white Oscar nominations. Meanwhile, CNN’s resident race-baiter Roland Martin and Mediaite’s amazing Tommie Christopher thought that they “destroyed” Dash with accusations of hypocrisy, as if the fact that Dash let herself be on the cover of black magazines precluded her from opining that there shouldn’t be black magazines. Here’s inspired nonsense from Christopher: “Trying to be the arbiter of blackness is a trap for anyone, especially if you’re white, because there are as many gradients to blackness as there are to anything else.”
Then white actress Charlotte Rampling opined that the boycott was racist against whites, and suggested that “perhaps sometimes black actors have not earned a place in the final running.” She, of course, was nominated, so she is certain that the Academy has superb judgment.
Into this ugly battlefield of opportunistic racial grandstanding, muddy logic, ego and actors revealing why they need scripts came an Ethics Hero, a voice of reason, perspective and adulthood, in the person of Ice Cube, who was a producer of “Straight Outta Compton,” a well-reviewed film about the black experience in America many felt deserved a Best Picture nomination.
Appearing on The Graham Norton Show on Britain’s BBC last week, the rapper/actor was asked by Norton if he would be boycotting the Oscars. Here is what he said:
“I never used to go anyway. You can’t boycott something that you never went to anyway. I look at it like a horse race. Once your horse loses the race, you tear up your ticket and back on out. We don’t do movies for the industry. We do movies for the fans, for the people. And the industry, if they give you a trophy or not or pat you on the back or not, it’s nice but it’s not something you should dwell on. We got accolades from all levels, from our core fans, from our curious fans, from people that didn’t even think they wanted to see that movie. We got so much praise for the movie. So how could we be mad that one other Academy or guild or anybody didn’t say it’s their number one? It’s like crying about not having enough icing on your cake.You know what I mean? It’s just ridiculous.”
Said fellow guest, white actor Hugh Laurie (Bertie Wooster to the Brits, Dr. House to Americans), “That’s about the sanest description of this whole process of awards that I’ve ever heard!”
Indeed it is.
I am, henceforth, an Ice Cube fan
21 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Ice Cube…Adult”
Maybe Ice could explain a few things to Chris Davis as well.
“Stacey Dash suggested that black actors had nothing to complain about as long as they participated in blacks-only honors, like the BET Awards, and the NAACP Image awards. What was that supposed to mean? That Oscar should be all-white, since there are all-black awards? Is this a plug for separate but equal?”
I might not be looking at this correctly, but could this have been an attempt to bolster her argument that there shouldn’t be a BET, or Black History Month, precisely because she doesn’t believe in separate but equal?
No, my wanting to make little Joe baboon/Stacey Dash children with her has nothing to do with my jumping to her defense.
Yes. But she picked the worst possible controversy in which to raise it. I don’t like “Pork Month” either.
True, and as you said, awkwardly stated. Just begging to be taken out of context. I guess observing the reaction to Ice Cube’s statement over the next few days will tell if stating it any better would have mattered. I’m guessing not. Race-obsession will render internet porn obsolete.
Stop the presses! You might want to re-think this whole post, now that Spawn of Hill-Billy has weighed in. I mean, maybe you really should leave all this ethics stuff to the people with the breeding for it:
I apologize if this has been treated in an earlier thread, but I must confess,
there are two…um…Black actors that should have not only been nominated for this past years performance, but considered for the “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Shaun King is a biracial African-American. Rachel Dolezal is not, something even she has acknowledged. Silliness.
Jeffery Wayne King, the “father” listed on his birth certificate, is White.
King: “I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man,”
“Rachel Dolezal is not, something even she has acknowledged.”
Tell me again how long it took for her to acknowledge that and what prompted her to do so?
More to the point, would she still be living her lie had her folks not outed her?
Though likely my failing, I’m not a real big fan of honesty as a last resort.
The real point is, should race matter, or not? I vote “not.” The current position, which is that race matters when it is in the interests of one race or the other to make it so, is idiotic and hypocritical. See: Oscars.
Should race matter? Sometimes.
Mostly in practical matters. How much sunscreen, in general will I need? Haircare. Things like that.
*Should* race matter, besides practical considerations? No, but it does.
Does pretending that race has no effect help or hurt? That depends on the situation.
Culture matters as well, of course, but that is a far more complicated, multilevel answer.
That’s a nuanced answer to a difficult question, deery. I expected no less. But race will always matter if we keep allowing it to. At some point, a culture draws a line and says “Enough.” That is Stacey Dash’s point, if awkwardly stated, and badly timed.
Hurray for Ice Cube! My pov is that life isn’t fair and stooping to be a crybaby about it by boycotting the stupid Oscars with the nominations being highly political just makes you look like a fool. Here’s a list of talented white actors who didn’t win one: http://magazine.foxnews.com/celebrity/20-good-actors-without-oscars
As you’ve said before, the Oscars are both dumb and the Academy rarely, if ever, nominates (or awards) someone for purely artistic reasons. Moreover, I agree that boycotting them will not result in anything constructive.or of real meaning. I fail to see how one can “begin a dialogue” if you first walk out of the room.
That said, isn’t that also their right? Freedom of association and assembly is paramount to everything on which our Nation was founded — and those reasons need not be good. They don’t like the Oscars, so they’re tuning out; I do likewise every year by not tuning in. If Smith, Sharpton, or Lee want to boycott (if you invite me to a party and I disincline to go, does that count as an embargo?) the event,, they’re merely expressing said right, and I don’t think it necessarily makes them assholes.
I fail to see how there it is anything ethically or morally wrong to express and opinion (even if based on a false narrative) and choose not the associate with people who disagree. Even if the discrimination itself isn’t real, they nonetheless believe that it is. Why? Because they’ve listened to the wrong people? These are (presumably) reasonable, fairly intelligent people and I refuse to believe that it’s simply because others have led them astray;
The ongoing narrative of racial injustice may untrue, but the people who accept it aren’t all doing so blindly. As you well know, just because something is unsound doesn’t make it invalid. To put it another way, legal innocence is not always actual innocence. In the same way, the feeling of discrimination, however true or not, is nonetheless popular and, amidst all the shouting, I feel that so many fail to consider why. I believe (perhaps naively so) that, most of the time, most people (even if only by a slight majority) make reasonable decisions about based on the evidence they encounter.Well, the court of public opinion (if that’s not overly stretching the metaphor) has ruled — something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Finally, you can’t shine a light on a stage and expect performers not to perform and you can’t claim they’re damaging their profession by calling attention to themselves. These people operate in an world where any publicity is good publicity. Marlon Brando acted like an asshole by orchestrating the Littlefeather stunt, but it didn’t bring down the film industry. Controversies inevitably surround award shows; that’s how they work. If anything, Smith and others should commended for their tireless efforts on behalf of the media they represent.
Anyways, these are my thoughts. I welcome more of yours …
Is it just me, or does it really seem like black people (generally-speaking) don’t know exactly where they stand with freedom of association?
I do agree with you for the most part.
Strictly- speaking, the comparison to legal innocence might be appropriate, but not necessarily valid. At least you didn’t say “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. Also, I agree that most people making reasonable decisions based on the evidence is a naive assumption, unfortunately, but not necessarily a bad one. More faith in humanity than it merits might be more important than being skeptical of it in the long run, particularly when it comes to things that appear racially-motivated. Being falsely accused of racism isn’t much less destructive and polarizing than being a victim of it, and this can only get more true with time.
Isn’t that also their right? Freedom of association and assembly is paramount to everything on which our Nation was founded — and those reasons need not be good. They don’t like the Oscars, so they’re tuning out; I do likewise every year by not tuning in. If Smith, Sharpton, or Lee want to boycott (if you invite me to a party and I disincline to go, does that count as an embargo?) the event,, they’re merely expressing said right, and I don’t think it necessarily makes them assholes.
Sure, it’s their right. Americans have a right to be assholes; that’s why Donald Trump isn’t in jail. BUT…
…Boycotting an event by implying racism where there is none is unfair and dishonest.
…Not supporting professional colleagues who are being justly honored out of pique is disloyal, selfish and petty
…Standing for racial quotas is itself divisive and .
Let’s see…selfish, petty, dishonest, divisive, unfair, disloyal, prejudicial, and I’ll add harmful, foolish and counter-productive. Is all that fairly translated as “being an asshole”?
In my book it is.
Vanity Fair seems to be lumping Jada’s subtler statement with Spike Lee’s explicit boycott. Jada’s video, where she gave the speech that included the the above quote, seemed to be more in line with what “Ice Cube” was saying. Jada spoke of the Academy having the right to nominate whoever they chose, and suggested that the black community instead focus on making art that appeals to their own tastes.
It appears that Vanity Fair simply hammered her position into a stupid narrative about her and Spike both “boycotting” the Oscars. The quote sounds like utter nonsense as part of a boycott announcement, mostly because it is not actually a call for a boycott! While Spike has clearly encouraged others who were planning on watching to not watch, Jada spoke more passively about not watching the Oscars this year. She even congratulated Chris Rock for hosting because it was still an honor host them.
Then how do you explain that she is, in fact, boycotting the Oscars? That’s why it’s gibberish.
I’m not watching the Oscars. Am I boycotting it?
The difference is that Spike Lee was encouraging others to not watch. Jada only said in passing that she wasn’t watching. Vanity Fair called both a “boycott”, and I do not think Vanity accurately portrayed Jada’s position. (Not that what she said wasn’t oblique and open to misinterpretation.)
They aren’t GOING. That’s a boycott. It has nothing to do with watching.