Part 3—Our narrative versus some facts: Sometimes it seems that we pseudo-liberals need to get out a bit more.
Consider our latest jihad, in which we declare that Selma got “snubbed,” for racial reasons, in last week’s Oscar nominations.
At our most overwrought, we've even said that the film was “overwhelmingly snubbed.” Since Selma received a Best Picture nomination, that claim seems a bit hard to parse.
That said, we pseudolibs are sufficiently daft to make claims of that type. And we love to scatter our R-bombs around. Truth to tell, it’s pretty much the only play our sad tribe currently knows.
Was Selma snubbed for racial reasons? Was Selma “snubbed” at all? Again, let’s consider the keening and wailing about British actor David Oyelowo, who plays Dr. King in the film.
Oyelowo is a thoroughly competent, skilled professional actor. That said, should he have received a Best Actor nod? Was he really denied nomination on some racial basis?
On its face, that ugly claim is a bit hard to credit. Is it possible that we pseudo-liberals need to get out a bit more?
Was Oyelowo denied a nomination due to some racial agenda? Let’s take a look at the record, even including some facts.
There was a time when few black actors received Oscar nominations. If you go back to the 1980s, you will find quite a few years when all twenty acting nods went to folk who were white.
This isn’t the 1980s. Black actors have been getting Oscar nominations for a good long time now. As useless fellows like David Carr scatter their speculations (and their R-bombs) around, it might not be a bad idea to consider the recent history.
We the pseudos may not know it. But the Academy has been nominating black actors for a good long time now:
As some tribal members may even recall, 2002 was regarded as a watershed year—the year in which Denzel Washington won the Best Actor award (for films from 2001), with Halle Berry winning for Best Actress.
By normal reckoning, both those performers are “black.” Washington beat fellow nominee Will Smith that year. Smith is also said to be black.
Thirteen years ago, many people hailed this watershed event. And two years later, it happened again! Many observers hailed the international flavor of the acting nods, with five of the nominations going to this far-flung cast:
Some acting nominees in 2004People applauded those nominations. As of today, all is forgotten as we deploy our bombs.
Djimon Hounsou (born in Benin)
Benicio Del Toro (born in San Juan)
Ken Watanabe (born in Japan)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (born in Tehran)
Keisha Castle-Hughes (half Maori!)
Our righteous pseudo-liberal anger turned on the claim that Selma and its actors were “snubbed” on a racial basis. Hollywood didn’t want to nominate black actors or actors of color!
As our tribe so frequently does, we rushed to embrace a few standard scripts which seemed just a little bit dumb (for examples, see below). But just to establish a statistical record, let’s list the black actors who received acting nods in the past ten years.
This takes us back to March 2005, three years after Washington/Berry, one year after Hounsou/Del Toro/Watanabe. This is the record since then:
Nominated for acting Oscars, 2005-2014:Some years, there were five nominations. One year, there were none.
2014: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Barkhad Abdi, Lupita Nyong'o
2013: Denzel Washington, Quvenzhané Wallis
2012: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
2011: no black nominees
2010: Morgan Freeman, Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique
2009: Viola Davis
2008: Ruby Dee
2007: Forrest Whitaker, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Hudson
2006: Terrence Howard
2005: Jamie Foxx (Best Actor), Jamie Foxx (Best Supporting Actor), Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Sophie Okonedo
But over the course of those ten years, 24 nominations went to black actors or actresses. That was twelve percent of all acting nods, a number which is upsettingly close to the percentage of blacks in the U.S. population (currently, 12.6 percent).
Of course, Hollywood is no longer a purely American industry. Many of those nominations went to black actors from other lands.
Still and all, if we simply look at the record, it’s hard to say that Hollywood has been snubbing black actors at Oscar time. That said, the R-bomb is our tribe’s only toy, and we love to scatter our bombs all across the land.
How dumb are we pseudos willing to be in our scripted fury? Very, very dumb! At the start of this latest jihad, many tribals stated a talking-point:
This is the first year since 1995 when none of the acting nods went to a person of color!
We didn’t seem to notice a fairly obvious point. If true, that factoid tends to lessen the likelihood that acting nods were withheld this year on a racial basis.
Nor did we notice how hard our tribunes had to work to come up with that factoid. After clicking here, can you spot the actor of color in the nominations for 2011?
Answer: Is Javier Bardem an actor of color? It’s hard to say, but that’s the claim which let us say that this was the first year since 1995 when no nods went to actors of color—a claim which tended to argue against our main point, although we didn’t quite notice.
Back to our own basic point:
Acting nods have been going to black actors for a long time now. In the ten years before the current year, black actors received twelve percent of the two hundred such nods.
Despite this fact, we the pseudos were quick to say and imply that Oyelowo was snubbed this year on a racial basis. Because we love to drop our bombs, we didn’t consider a different possibility, one we now ponder again:
To state the obvious, Oyelowo is a skilled professional actor. Having said that, is it possible he wasn’t nominated because voters simply didn’t think he gave one of the year's best performances?
Only five actors get nominated. Is it possible that this explains his failure to get that nod?
When we saw Selma, we didn’t think Oyelowo’s performance was all that great, partly because of the lousy script he was forced to read and the lousy scenes he was given to play.
That said, we aren’t qualified judges of professional acting performance—but many of the Oscar voters are highly qualified judges! Could it be that they just didn’t think he gave one of the five best performances?
Sometimes, the lack of a Best Actor nomination may just be a cigar! But within our increasingly pitiful tribe, that rather obvious possibility simply couldn’t be brooked.
Within our increasingly pitiful tribe, we love the smell of bombs in the morning! As if by law, the failure to gain that nomination became a racial snub.
Do you mind if we talk some tom turkey? We’re lazy and stupid and nobody likes us! Progressive interests got a bad break when they landed in our lazy, self-impressed, not especially honest hands.
Tomorrow: Professors and journalists reason!