Pinkett Smith’s Boycott Idea the Best Way to Get Academy’s Attention?

Pinkett Smith’s Boycott Idea the Best Way to Get Academy’s Attention?

Overview

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Despite 2015 being a sublime year for Black talent in film, amassing great box office receipts and high praise from critics, Academy Awards voters failed to recognize Black talent, shutting out Black performances and movies in most competitive categories this year.

What hurts so much about #OscarsSoWhite was not only the snub of quality, award-nominated Black talent, but there were no consensus favorites during awards season.  Will Smith was considered one of the few locks throughout a fragmented awards season, but his name was left on the cutting-room floor Thursday morning.  His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, took to Twitter on Saturday to express her deep disappointment, lament harsh truths and propose a possible solution.

Jada’s idea for a boycott is a viable way to meaningfully voice the discontent of Black performers. The truth is that with black films becoming more successful, there’s no reason for lack of recognition for artistic achievement. Yet, Black performers are still asked to present and participate.

Film industry professionals have been talking about the need for diversity since last year. To help reboot from the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite outcry, the Academy trumpeted “diversity” as its song cry: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a Black woman, was re-elected for another term as president; Reginald Hudlin was chosen as one of the show’s producers; and Chris Rock was tapped to host again.

Straight Outta Compton and Creed had strong box office showings, critical acclaim and award-season recognition. Plus, there were great performances from Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation and Will Smith in Concussion. So, it appeared there be no repeat of #OscarsSoWhite.  However, instead of progression, the film industry is stuck in a perpetual unkind rewind.

Hudlin said, “In a year with an extraordinary number of great performances by black actors that were embraced by audiences and embraced by critics, for them all to get ignored is tragic.”

How many times can we express our disappointment? Effective change begins with a shift in mindset, and shifting out of neutral begins with action.  Then, action picks up and carries on where voices fall faint.  At this point, though, voicing disappointment doesn’t seem to be working out so well.  A boycott would go a long way in stating this, more than any words can say.