The Oscars

Recently the Oscars took place. From John Travolta’s hair and speech mishaps to the anticipation and sort of letdown of Leo not winning another golden statue, it was exceptionally entertaining. But, arguably the most entertaining thing about the Oscars this year was the host Ellen DeGeneres. She started and ended the show like a true champ and even though she did things like break twitter with one picture and order pizza for cinema’s most elite, what struck me most was her comment about 12 years a slave. In her beginning remarks Ellen says, “Possibility number one:  12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists.” And the crowd laughs and then the show moved on (and 12 Years a Slave won best picture). I found the comment to be hilarious for all the superficial reasons at first but then I started to think about the racism and politics that plague even the Oscars. The comment and then the win made me think about how Black people and, as proven true in this case, our work has to be much better than our white counterparts to get the same or even a sliver of the same recognition for it. Though the comment was meant to be funny it held a lot of truth to it because I agreed that 12 Years a Slave deserved that award. But to the audience full of cast and crews of the competing movies and to the academy that picked the winners of each award, what kind of magnitude did that comment hold to them? And how did other at home audience members feel about the comment before and after the win?

2 thoughts on “The Oscars

  1. I think what Ellen said as a joke just allowed people to continue to ignore the racial issues our society has. As you said everyone laughed, but I bet you no one really thought of it as a “oo maybe she has a point” but more of an “oo this great film was made and omg it was by a black director with a black cast, isn’t that great”. While the movie did deserve the win, I think it is unfortunate that our blacks have to present a life changing work of art for it to get the same recognition that most others don’t try for. I can see how it might leave a negative impression on the viewers but racism in america today is widely supported by colorblind ideology and many people probably called her a racist for bringing up that point.

  2. I feel like the fact that “you’re all racist” was presented as a joke certainly reinforced a family’s, especially white families, belief that racism is a thing of the past since we are joking about it and people of all races are laughing about the joke in the audience. In can be argued that this situation is a victim of Americans convincing themselves that racism no longer exists and is now something to laugh about. It would be interesting to see if white people in the crowd waited to seen non-white people laughed first and if whites surrounded by other white people were quicker to laugh at the joke, signs of modern racism.

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