What are you saying, really?

January 16th, 2014 by |

Steve McQueen & John Ridley’s 12 Years A Slave got nominated for an Oscar this year. That got me thinking, so I dug up a list of winners and nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

You should click through, so that you can accurately answer this brief survey:

-How many black movies, with “black movies” defined as “primarily concerned with or created by black people” for the purposes of the question, have been nominated for Best Picture by the Academy?

-How many of those movies are about how sad it is to be black, or racial strife, or just the black condition in general?

-What does it mean when the organization of record for the movie industry only pays attention to black people, and undoubtedly people of several other stripes and types, when they’re in pain, but eats up movies about white people doing fantastic things?

Eddie Murphy, presenting an award at the 60th Academy Awards:

(and, just to stay on brand, here’s Jadakiss in 2004: “Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get a Oscar?/Why Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?”

This year’s the 86th Academy Awards, but it’s biz as usual, isn’t it? According to a Feb. 2012 study, “the Academy is 94% white, 77% male, 14% under the age of 50, and has a median age of 62.”

You can tell.

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12 comments to “What are you saying, really?”

  1. I do think it’s worth noting that 12 Years a Slave is a hell of a film, in my opinion one of the very best ever made; it’s just a shame it also happens to feed the Black Misery film industry.

  2. “and, just to stay on brand, here’s Jadakiss in 2004: “Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get a Oscar?/Why Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?””

    “You know that Denzel had an Oscar before “Training Day”, right?”

    sources taken from:


    why by jadakiss




  3. @H: Yeah, for Best Supporting Actor in Glory. There is a world of difference between that award and Best Actor and Best Actress, which both Denzel and Halle won after Training Day and Monster’s Ball, which is what Jada was referring to in the song.

    You must be new here if you’re quoting TVTropes at me.

  4. To be fair, literally every award show for all time has always been stupid and always will be.

  5. @david brothers: That’s a pretty hostile answer to someone who raised a perfectly valid point. Is that really how you want to treat someone who might very well be a new reader?

  6. @Lady Willpower: Which part was “pretty hostile?” Where’s the “perfectly valid point?” How come I’m the unproductive one, when the commenter I was replying to supplied no thoughts of their own, choosing instead to link some dude’s video that’s not even about the issue at hand in an attempt to correct me on a throwaway gag?


  7. David, please keep doing what you’re doing.

    I read your writing so that I can have a counter-balance to the messages that I’m force fed about our people. I absolutely love it. What you contribute through your writing is clearly well-thought out and researched. Not that you need anyone’s permission or even to be defended, but it wasn’t hostile to point out how loose and poorly researched H’s response was. Following their line of reasoning we can look at the film “Glory”. Denzel won an award for portraying a soldier who was basically a line in the sand away from being in some form of servitude. In fact, the whole movie is a meditation on how Black people, when fighting to gain freedom, are really only experiencing a layer of it. He’s whipped in the movie, like he’s enslaved. That’s not a great example of counter-point to David’s piece. Not only that, it isn’t a blip on the radar when you consider the percentage representation of the disparity in how these awards are distributed by race.

    This is all a great interpersonal exercise in how inept dominant white culture is at involving everyone who contributes to art. White America’s unwillingness to open up in this way (churning out awards for disappointing roles for Black people) is an excellent example of white supremacy in action. We refuse to do less than acknowledge this so long as it exists, and any counter to such an investigation should result in the person engaging in such a criticism to question why they are criticizing this investigation. Why are you resisting? What do you feel like you’re losing by not acknowledging this gross disparity?

    *drops mic*

  8. @david brothers: Saying to someone “You must be new here if you’re quoting TVTropes at me” certainly sounded pretty hostile to me. Any time someone says “you must be new here” it’s a pretty snarky/dismissive statement. Some people ARE new here, are they expected to know everything that’s going to annoy you, right off the bat? I mean, what’s wrong with linking to TV Tropes? Is that something that really offends you? I’ve been reading this page for years and that’s not something I ever picked up on.

    It’s your site, of course, and you can take whatever tone you want with people. It just came across as hostile to me.

  9. At one point…I get it, I do. Why can’t we get some black films about surviving in outer space like Gravity or how about just a Black Panther movie or something.

    but the flip side is the fact that 12 Years a Slave is a phenominal fuckin’ movie and shouldn’t need qualifiers like “oh, why you gotta award us niggas when its about racial struggle, huh?”. That should in no way take away from the artistry and the power of that film. Its not like there was an alternative celebratory black film this year that was of 12 Years a Slave’s prestige and quality. Best Man Holiday is probably more a more “fun” black movie, but they’re not even in the same league.

  10. @Lady Willpower: I disagree with how hostile it is, but honestly, I intended it to be sharp. The commenter had no interest in taking part in the conversation, or even adding to it. They just dropped someone else’s quote on me like it’s proof I was wrong, when that quote is not just wrong, but irrelevant. If they’d disagreed (“Yeah, but didn’t Denzel win for Glory?” or whatever) that’d be one thing, but what did H add at all, besides a derailment targeted on one line of the post?

    TVTropes doesn’t offend me. Acting like it’s a counterpoint to my piece doesn’t offend me, either. It’s just dumb, and it’s a bad way to argue a point. There’s plenty of good reasons to disagree with me, but “some guy on the internet says you’re wrong because of this pedantic point” ain’t really a rebuttal to anything ever.

    I’m grateful for my readers, I hope that’s obvious and clear, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to bend over backwards when faced with nothing or coddle them. We’re all adults. If I can take a weird jab from someone who’s never posted before, they can take a “you must be new here.”

  11. @david brothers: That’s fair.

  12. Ohh Who care about Academy Awards or Golden Globe… I loved 12 years A Slave… and i dont care if the picture will win Oscar or not. For me it is one of the best film in recent times. Thumbs Up for Steve McQueen.