Saturday, January 17, 2015

More Oscar Nominations Won't Change Anything

I try to avoid commenting on issues of race because it is hard to not be inflammatory and I am all too conscious of my own failings and flaws in this respect. Having said that I was unusually struck by the backlash against the apparent "excessive whiteness" of the Oscar nominations. Full disclosure, I haven't seen any of the movies nominated nor have I seen 'Selma', although I would like to. I also don't care who wins an Oscar or why, not do I care who wore what to the Awards or who had the best acceptance speech. The entire process is an never-ending parade of sill, self-important people who are famous and rich for being good at pretending to be someone else patting each other and themselves on the back for being so awesome. No thanks. Nevertheless the reaction, first from professional race hustler and extortionist Al Sharpton and then a growing chorus of voices has got me thinking about how far we have come as a country and yet how quickly we seem to be losing ground. Take for example this commentary from film critic Gen Seymour (and is there a less useful, less productive function in our society than 'film critic'?):

I was prepared to offer that perspective, too -- until I noticed a distressing dichotomy looming on this branch.

A depiction of African Americans in shameful, soul-depleting captivity is one thing; African Americans organized in open rebellion against their oppressors is very much another.

Movie history has many films with black slaves and black victims. It's much harder to think of a Hollywood movie in which African Americans are depicted as the active agents of their own salvation. "Selma" is one of those movies. And its relative dearth of worthy nominations is viewed, fairly or not, as a collective snub of not just a movie, but of African Americans' vision of their own empowerment.

So whites are OK with films portraying blacks being abused but not a more contemporary account of marches in the South because we like to see blacks being abused, a not so subtle masochistic streak among whites? Keep in mind that 'Selma' was nominated for Best Picture which is the ultimate award. Given the backlash I would be stunned if it doesn't win, even if it doesn't really deserve to win, and it is kind of hard to cry about being snubbed when you are up for the top award in a ceremony. Apparently Mr. Seymour, Al Sharpton and their ilk would only be placated if every single nomination in every single category was given to a black lesbian illegal immigrant woman in a wheelchair who has had an abortion.

Selma focuses on the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., presumably without looking to closely at his well-known but forbidden to speak of character flaws and political positions. Ironically it was in his signature speech that he said the following:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Sadly it is precisely the opposite of that going on today. Now film makers are judged first by the color of their skin and secondarily by the quality of their production.

I have seen the previews for 'Selma' more times than I can count and as I watched it I was saddened to think of what the fight for civil rights has devolved into. Today the civil rights movement is dominated by shysters and snake oil salesmen like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, duplicitous politicians like Maxine Waters and a plethora of guilty white liberals who seem more interested in perpetuating a system of dependence than in healing racial wounds. Meanwhile more than 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers. Black unemployment and poverty still far outpaces other races. Young black men are a far greater threat to other young black men than the police, although the level of police overuse of force is a serious issue. In spite of a black President it is hard to argue against the reality that by and large the black population in America is falling farther behind the rest of America, a trend that seems to be increasing. Demanding more Oscar nominations for black film makers is not going to do a thing to reverse that.

The real solution to racism is the Gospel which teaches that all men are created in the image of God, the elect and the non-elect, white and black, men and women, Europeans and Americans and Asians and Africans. That is not a naive notion. It is the deep truth of a broken humanity that only by making peace with God through the cross of His Son and viewing mankind with a heart regenerated with the new life in Christ. Christians on the political Left who see income redistribution as the solution and Christians on the political Right who see capitalism as the solution both miss the real and only solution: Christ. 

No comments: