SELMA ON OUR MINDS: Hollywood by the numbers!


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 2004
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!)
People applauded those nominations. As of today, all is forgotten as we deploy our bombs.

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:
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
Some years, there were five nominations. One year, there were none.

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!


  1. Finding alleged racism gives a pundit an excuse to write about movies instead of real issues. Take Maureen Dowd (please!) Does she have the expertise to present lucid opinions on real issues, such as the imminent fall of the government of our ally, Yemen? Probably not. And, she isn't supposed to just give movie reviews. But, the supposed racism makes this movie review a serious topic, worthy of being presented on the op-ed page.

    1. You mean, instead of talking about supposed racism, we could have exposed supply-side economics as the scam to rob the working class to enrich our betters that it is?


    2. Racism is not a real issue. Ignore all those people who died in that pseudo-war back in the 1860's brought about over a technical interpretation of jurisdiction over property masquerading as some sort of lower life form.

    3. The civil war was about economics, not race. It would have made no difference if the slaves had been white people. Owners are perfectly willing to oppress people regardless of color.

    4. Yes, it was only a coincidence that those they enslaved happened to be black.

    5. They also enslaved white and Indian people but the economics were better for the African slave trade. All races have been and are still being enslaved.

    6. I have read many excerpts from diaries of Union soldiers from the Civil War.
      None of them wrote about states rights or the economics of cotton farming.
      Many wrote that they were on a sacred mission to end slavery.

    7. Fortunately analysis of the forces that shape history is not limited to the perspective of the man on the street. What do you suppose the GIs in WWII thought that war was about? Was it about that?

  2. "Is Javier Bardem an actor of color? It’s hard to say."

    No. It is not. He is from Spain.

    1. Are you not aware that Spain was occupied by the Moors? Nationality is not race, ethnicity or color. It refers to political boundaries superimposed on geography.

    2. Yeah. You read a lot. Like Bob. And Clifford Worley.

      You are probably right. Those Moors got it on with all those Spanish ladies. He's probably part eggplant.

      Same thing what happened to the Sicilians.

    3. How fast would you backtrack if Bardem declared himself a person of color?

    4. I have already backtracked. You and Clifford Worley convinced me.

      The Aztecs and Incas should have welcomed their conquest by fellow "people of color."

  3. Know what? If I read "nod" one more time to describe an Oscar nomination, I think I'll puke.

    But given that Somerby can't think up anything else to write about, so he'll continue with this already beat-up, chewed over subject for an entire week, the fact that he is now writing in worn-out cliches should come as no surprise.

    "We’re lazy and stupid and nobody likes us! " And we prove it every week by regurgitating Monday's post all week long and calling in a "series."

    1. I think it's disgraceful the way you're made to read a blog that makes you puke. What can I do to help?

    2. Not a thing, deadrat, After all, you are lazy, stupid, and nobody likes you.

    3. I'm not the same Anonymous, but since you asked. Any chance you can get Bob to admit any real liberal wouldn't be allowed to get anywhere near a mainstream media (read corporate media) microphone,so all his "blame us liberals" schtick is 100% bullshit?
      BTW, I do like your responses to nitwits like cicero and DavidinCal.


    4. deadrat, you are getting your wish. This blog is sinking fast.

      Outside of a handful of critics, the only people reading this blog are you and a couple of other toadies who think Somerby shits chocolate ice cream.

    5. Strawberry.

      He shits strawberry ice cream. In logical, geometric shapes.

    6. Probably most people have given up on the comments but I doubt they've left the blog.

    7. @2:31P, I am not lazy.

      @2:50P, I take your point about the corporate media, but I think TDH's point still stands -- the so-called "progressive" media outlets could still take the trouble to get things right. Even if Salon feels it has to tout sex-related stories. I don't see how I could influence the blogger since I see no evidence that he reads his commentariat. If I were he, I wouldn't.

      BTW, I take it you mean that you like it best when I don' t post comments since I haven't responded to either cicero or DAinCA for a while. Shortly after cicero showed up, someone asked me not to feed the troll (classic type) and I agreed. I haven't responded to DAinCA in about a month, when he demonstrated the futility of arguing with him by declaring that I preferred another 9/11 attack to water-boarding "terrorists."

      @5:16P, Yeah, yeah, the blog is sinking fast, only a few toadies left. You forgot to mention Somerby's failed career as a stand-up comic.

    8. deadrat responses:

      "I am not lazy." According to B. Somerby, all you liberals are lazy, in addition to being dumb and disliked.

      "I see no evidence he reads his commentariat." It is odd he pores over, counts, selects, cuts, and pastes comments from elsewhere and even contributes to comment boxes of other blogs but has no interest in his own. By journalistic standards, of course, that is no evidence.

      "I take it you mean that you like it best when I don' t post comments." Everyone here is free to determine what another "seems" to say. That is the Howler way.

      "You forgot to mention..." Guess you are unwilling to weigh in on the flavor debate.

    9. @9:29,

      Ya see, when I denied being lazy, I was implicitly conceding that I'm dumb and disliked, 'cause if I disagreed with the latter two, I would have said so. It was a bit of silliness to respond to @2:49's joshing that I met TDH's description of liberals.

      Now didn't that take all the fun out of it?

      I don't keep track of what blogs Somerby frequents, but you evidently know what he "pores over." Very impressive. I'd say it was a fair guess that Somerby reads what interests him. After all, most people do when it comes to recreational reading. (The trolls here excepted, of course.) I thus find it not the least bit odd that he would skip the commentary here. If I were he, that's what I'd do.

      Everyone here is free to determine what others "seem" to say, but not to determine what they actually say. @2:50P actually says that he likes my responses to the two biggest nitwits with nyms. Since I don't respond to these two anymore, my facetious response was to suggest that what he actually likes is my silence.

      Now didn't that take all the fun out of it?

      I don't understand why my jibe at particular troll comment ("The blog is sinking!") has anything to do with my failure to join the flavor debate, but you're right I'm not willing to join the debate becase -- Wait for it! -- I don't find it interesting.

    10. Few point to your career, deadrat, as a keyboard komic. Allow me to do so. You always manage to put the first two letters back in "fun."

  4. "Consider our latest jihad, in which we declare that Selma got “snubbed,” for racial reasons, in last week’s Oscar nominations."

    So let us examine the evidence of "our jihad" that self described pseudo-liberal Bob Somerby is talking about.

    Based on an analysis of three posts he has written on the topic of the film Selma, we find only two columns and one online post mentioned as consituting the "jihad." Two of the three, written by women, do not mention race at all when saying Selma was snubbed in the Oscar competition.

    The third, written by a man who Somerby spent more time proving was a past drug abuser than offering a scintilla of evidence for his liberalism, had this to say:

    "As someone who once spent a great deal of time reporting on the ins and outs of the Oscars, I know that the snub is not some overt racial conspiracy at work."

    To Bob Somerby, this consitutes a "jihad" in which liberals are throwing "R" bombs.

    Once again, Bob Somerby is novelizing.

    It is time for some friends to lead him away from his desk. Bad things once happened to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. As we all know.

  5. From FOX Cable News' Award-Winning No-Spin Zone:

    (MEIGHAN) KELLY: I’ll tell you why the “Selma” director didn’t get nominated…they did one thing wrong, and that is that the director said every filmmaker imbues a movie with their own point of view and said originally that film was “much more slanted toward LBJ” but she didn’t want to make a movie about LBJ being a “white savior.” The problem there is that she managed to tick off the one group you cannot tick off and be nominated for an Academy Award, and that is the liberal elites in Hollywood to whom LBJ is a savior! They love him!

    (LOOFAH) O’REILLY: No, I don’t think so. LBJ got besmirched with Vietnam. Look, the movie is historically wrong, “Selma.” It’s wrong.

    KELLY: Correct, but LBJ was much more in favor of the Voting Rights Act than the movie portrays, but she didn’t want to portray it that way.

    O’REILLY: I don’t know this woman, have to see the movie, but ["American Sniper" director Clint] Eastwood got hosed because he went up on the stage at the Republican Convention and did the empty chair. That’s why he wasn’t nominated.

    1. And Bill O'Reilly's hero is Bobby Kennedy, who authorized the bugging of MLK.

      There is no such thing as a 100% historically accurate movie . That's why they are called movies.

    2. No, they are called movies because they move, not because they lie.

    3. Have you ever seen "My DInner With Andre"? Not all movies move.

  6. Let us to back into Howler History and those Incomparable Archives for film critic Somerby's first-ever review of a now unforgettable classic:

    PIPE IS THE HEAVIEST WAVE IN THE WORLD: Don’t let the critics keep you from seeing John Stockwell’s awesome new movie, Blue Crush. All praise to the Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan, one of the few male critics who captured this film’s dual appeal:

    O’SULIVAN: “Blue Crush” works on two levels. First, it’s a pure celebration of riding the waves. It’s in love with hydraulics. With the assistance of water camera operator Don King, director John Stockwell (a surfing aficionado who co-wrote the script with Lizzy Weiss, based on literary journalist Susan Orlean’s Outside magazine article “Surf Girls of Maui”) jumps on top of and under the ocean to make his point. Second, “Blue Crush” is a clear-eyed portrait of the unique kind of power that women possess, a power that shows us that victory doesn’t always mean vanquishing someone else.
    Either way, it’s thrilling."

    Blue Crush’s girl-power feminism isn’t quite as thrilling as its awesome surf footage—nothing else could be. But it comes in a very respectable second. We’re thrilled that O’Sullivan said so.

    The Post’s Ann Hornaday—one of the nation’s smartest reviewers—thoroughly nailed this movie. “Spectacularly filmed, well acted and snappily edited, ‘Blue Crush’ exemplifies Hollywood at its best and most brazen,” she wrote. “It’s honest, even occasionally elegant, American pulp.” Reread Hornaday’s dead-on review for added pleasure after seeing the movie.

    Last Friday, many reviewers used their space to say they were Smarter Than This Movie. They aren’t. Our entire staff has seen it three times; it awesomely rocked the third time out. Most reviewers missed this ride. Paddle hard. You can still catch it.

    1. Think of that all time classic "Blue Crush" when you read Somerby's take on "Selma":

      "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."

    2. Bob likes Hornaday. She lives in Baltimore and has a daughter that played with Bob in the bagel shop. Except she kind of liked Django Unchained or at least praised Tarantino. Bob left before the end. Same with The Deep. He didn't like the underwater jiggle scenes with Jacqueline Bisset he said, although he seemed to have stayed long enough to catch them all. Bob's dad seems to have made his money off of women's jiggly parts, BTW.

      I think Bob could fill the void left by Roger Ebert. Your views may differ.

    3. I know people who love Blue Crush because it is about women surfing. It is their Selma because it too is about people breaking barriers and following dreams. Mock if you want but messages of hope are important.

    4. Breaking barriers? The protaganist of Blue Crush "realizes her dreams" of getting a corporate endorsement contract and a rich boy friend who solves all her problems.

    5. Except for the boyfriend she did what male surfers do to succeed. In fact, it is what golfers and NASCAR drivers do too. But when women do it, it is wrong?

    6. Has Bob gotten his corporate sponsor for "How He Got there" yet? Maybe he should set his sights on a rich girlfriend who shares his love for wholesome entertainment.

  7. 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?

    That sounds somewhat racist to my ears. After a while you learn to "hear" the racism even if others not as sensitively attuned to the plights of others might not pick up on it.

  8. This series is fantastic and required considerable research to put together. Thanks, Bob.

    1. Especially his admission about the difficulty of determining if Javier Bardem is colored, of color, or whatnot.

    2. I like the fact that Part 3 is almost a perfect combination of Part 1 and Part 2.

    3. Neither Part 1 or Part 2 presented us with the weighty Javier Bardem conondrum. That alone made Part 3 worth wading through already plowed ground.

  9. What is this author of this blogs deal? Fox News is the problem not liberal s.

    1. Yes, there is only one problem and everyone must focus on it exclusively.

    2. "we the pseudos were quick to say and imply that Oyelowo was snubbed this year on a racial basis."

      Problem is, Bob, you have presented exactly zero evidence of anyone saying it and you have to stretch mighty far to backasswardly allege Carr "implied" it.

    3. Fox News is a problem that cannot be fixed by liberals. Fox News was created and supported by conservatives. Liberals *can* affect those in the media who depend on the support of liberals for their salaries. If we want a better media, we have to focus our criticism on those in the media we can affect. Of course, you may feel that anyone who is on our side (our tribe) should never be criticized no matter what they say, but that is your opinion.

    4. @9:33 So, your agree with Bob. There is no basis that Oyelowo was snubbed this year on a racial basis and if anyone said so, or implied it, they would be pulling out the "race card".

    5. No, 12:30. I am agreeing with Bob Somerby that some people are dumb, lazy, and easily disliked, and will imply that your comment places you among those to whom he points.

      I am disagreeing with Bob Somerby that he and other pseudo-liberals have been quick to say or imply Oyelwo was snubbed on the basis or race based on anything he, Bob Somerby, has demonstrated as proof that is the case.

    6. "If we want a better media, we have to focus our criticism on those in the media we can affect."

      Fat chance. The media is owned by corporations. Are you suggesting corporations are liberals or have any interest in pushing for liberal causes?


  10. Bob says that snarky, vitriolic, mocking comments about conservative's beliefs won't change their minds.
    He's right.
    Intelligent, factual, informative comments about their beliefs won't change their minds either.
    Try it and see.

    1. Plus a zillion.

    2. There is a literature on persuasion. It does happen and people do change their views. It may not happen immediately and people who say convincing things may not be around later to see the change occur.

    3. People's world views don't change from persuasion.
      If a person believes that the stern father, tough love upbringing makes the child into a better adult, they are not going to believe that a nurturing mother will do a better job, and vice-versa.
      If they extend these belief systems to governments, they will call out names such as fascist or bleeding heart.
      To be sure, some people achieved great success despite adverse conditions, and believe that adversity forged them into a stronger adult.
      But facts demonstrate that a society that helps it's citizens grow and achieve has a better end result than one that places stumbling blocks in their path.
      It is this fact that many deny and will keep denying till they die.