The check-box celebration only proves that Hollywood does not even follow its own lectures.
Lost in the tumult of the Will Smith attack on Chris Rock is what took place with the winners – one irony being that Smith’s stunt has actually eclipsed his later winning the Best Actor trophy. Hardly anyone is discussing his win, and for that matter most of the others Sunday night, but there were apparently some historical accomplishments seen in Burbank.
Ariana DeBose Becomes First Openly Queer Woman of Color to Win Acting Oscar: ‘There Is Indeed a Place for Us’ https://t.co/Zaho1KICe0
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022
I was first struck by this headline because I was under the impression we had moved beyond gay being a remarkable designation, especially in this industry. That we are now in the era where we need to sub-divide social categories in order to announce the historical nature of things does not end there. Troy Kotsur won the Best Supporting Actor award, and this too was a hyphenated landmark.
Troy Kotsur Makes Oscar History as First Deaf Male Winner, Dedicates Emotional Speech to Father https://t.co/KbPbJgzZCd
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022
Now there is no problem with these recognitions, aside from the fact that it seems apparent we will continue to see Hollywood drill down to commemorate these milestones for years to come. I foresee a time when the headlines could read something akin to “The First Fructose-Intolerant Editor to Win for Best Sound Design.” But what is also displayed here is something Hollywood does not want recognized: They have been lax in recognizing people in these categories.
Consider how many years it has been that we have endured celebrities lecturing us about tolerance and acceptance, and yet their own industry has lagged in the very action they are commanding of others. In fact, this is exposed in something Ariana DeBose said in her interviews backstage at the awards.
“I’m an openly queer woman of color — and not for nothing, that’s freaking awesome, you guys,” she said. She noted that she’s “the second Latina to win an acting award” after [actress Rita] Moreno. “And I think that just proves that there’s space for us. It’s a beautiful moment to be seen. And I’m really honored by that.”
This would be where the sound effects department would insert a record scratch on the soundtrack. DeBose is just the second Latina to win?! Rita Moreno’s award was given out all the way back in 1962, and this is only the second Latina victory in 60 years. Making things even worse, the diversity is further diluted, as DeBose wins for the very same movie.
Think back on all of the talk over the past years about black performers needing proper recognition, and then consider that Hispanics comprise a significantly bigger demographic in this country. For Hollywood to only come around to honoring two Latina actresses over the course of six decades is disgraceful, and in both instances, it is for portraying Latinas in the very same musical.
How is it that these are the very same people who love to use their bully pulpit to tell us how to comport our lives, lecturing the country on how we are supposed to act in their approved fashion on social issues, when they are lax in the very arenas they profess to have wisdom about? This is just an extension of the obliviousness seen in the wake of the Will Smith assault that same evening. After years of dictating how words are violent, and that violent rhetoric is a scourge, they displayed actual violence, and barely even reacted.
Earlier in the show, hostess Amy Schumer made a comment about toxic masculinity, and then the behavior she was decrying took place on the very spot on stage she was occupying, and it came from one of their own. It is clear that Hollywood has a severe blindspot in front of the mirror. What is unrecognized is that as they celebrate the accomplishment of social groups achieving first-time accolades, they expose the reality that all this time, they have failed to heed the dictates of their own lectures.