The Oscars, aka the “If Moonlight doesn’t win, I’m done” awards, are right around the corner, and boy is the momentum ramping up. There have been earnest calls to action and there has been shade thrown left and right. And now, anonymous Oscar voters are weighing in.
Talking to voters can provide some really great insight into how industry insiders judge films, but it can also provide some really great insight into the racial fuckery that informs an Oscars vote, along with the general racial fuckery of Hollywood at large. In their latest installment of their “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot” series, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed an anonymous producer about his or her Oscars picks, and the stuff the magazine got back is EXTREMELY informative. Here's what our producer friend has to say about one of the films:
Then [Lion's Dev] Patel. He really seems like he's needy as an actor and just wants you to like him, but he shouldn't be that needy — he's grown up to be a really handsome, sexy dude, with this mid-range brown color, so everyone loves him.
MID-RANGE BROWN COLOR. Nothing like reducing a person’s worth, self-esteem, and likability to a pantone. And people wonder why #OscarsSoWhite exists and Hollywood has a diversity problem. By this standard, any of these puppies, this vintage stapler, this Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket, this fun beachy hairstyle, and Alf are not only sexy, but at least a little worthy of Oscar consideration.
But there’s more. The very same producer also had some revealing thoughts on Fences:
To me, that film doesn't just speak about black relationships and how black men go on and have child after child; it was a film about the men in America and the women who support them. I had a troubled childhood with my father and it spoke to me at a very neutral level.
Yes, Denzel Washington’s character Troy does have multiple children by different women. But somehow it seems the producer maybe missed the part of the movie about multigenerational dysfunction, the legacy of racism in America, and the distressing ripple effect of sheer pride. But um, yeah, it’s cool that the film goes beyond baby daddy drama? And why is this person so shocked that they could connect with a movie about black people?
These interviews with Oscar voters can be fun, but at the same time, thoughts like this are a stark reminder of just how Hollywood views people of color and stories of color. A man being handsome because he’s got a good skin tone and a black story being good because it supposedly goes beyond a stereotype are inadequate and also racist, assessments of film and actors. Once again, do better Hollywood!
And readers—if you know who this anonymous person with these very troubling views who's helping pick out who wins the biggest award in Hollywood is, LET ME KNOW. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.