SELMA ON OUR MINDS: Our tribe's only trick!


Part 2—Some David Carr talk:
We pseudo-liberals know exactly one trick.

We know the trick about race! Sunday, at the hapless new Salon, Jenny Kutner turned our trick in a comical way about the way Selma got snubbed:
KUTNER (1/18/15): “Saturday Night Live” decided to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a bit early this week in Saturday’s cold open—and the show even managed to work in a nod to the overwhelmingly snubbed film about the civil rights activist, Selma.
Kutner was working from mandated script—a script in which Selma got “snubbed” in last week’s Oscar nominations.

As often happens when every pundit agrees to say the same darn thing, Kutner embellished the script a bit—jacked it up a notch. In her account, the new feature film was overwhelmingly snubbed.

Was Selma “snubbed” in the Oscar race at all? Good God! The film for a Best Picture nomination—but Kutner knew the script. She decided to jack it up a notch, as people with nothing to say, and a script to recite, will so frequently do.

Selma, a Best Picture nominee, was overwhelmingly snubbed! So it goes as we see the ditto-headed shape of our pseudo-liberal minds!

Was Selma snubbed in the Oscar nominations? For those who aren’t as silly as Kutner, the scripted claim will turn on the fact that Selma’s actors and director didn’t get nominations. Regarding the snub of Selma’s actors, Maureen Dowd was quite upset.

“I loved the movie and find the Oscar snub of its dazzling actors repugnant,” Dowd wrote in Sunday’s column. But then, within hours of last week’s nominations, everyone knew the script.

Were those actors actually “snubbed?” On the merits of the case, should they have received nominations?

We don’t pretend to be competent judges of professional acting. Neither are the vast majority of the people who have lamented the snub.

That said, as we watched Selma last weekend, we found ourselves wondering why anyone would have picked David Oyelowo’s performance as Dr. King as one of the best of the year.

Don’t misunderstand! Oyelowo is an experienced professional actor. Like anyone you see in a major film, he’s a thousand times more skilled as an actor than anyone you know.

That said, we thought he brought little life to his role, in large part due to the lifeless script and the lifeless scenes he was asked to perform. Watching the film, we marveled at the scripted fury about the way he’d been “snubbed.”

Just for the record, none of Selma’s actors were nominated for the Screen Actors Guild awards. Nor was Selma’s cast nominated for the SAG’s ensemble acting award. If Oyelowo and others were actually snubbed, the snubbing extended beyond the boundaries of the Oscar nominations.

(Oyelowo was nominated for a Golden Globe as best actor. That said, ten male actors get nominated for the Globes, as opposed to five for the Oscars. No other actor or actress from Selma got a Golden Globe nomination.)

Did Selma’s actors really get “snubbed?” Were they overwhelmingly snubbed?

Should their exclusion from Oscar nods seem “repugnant?” Should it seem like a racial “snub?”

At present, everyone knows the law—such things must be said! That said, it’s amazing to see how little effort our “journalists” make to argue this well-scripted point.

Consider the ugly, empty piece by the New York Times’ David Carr.

Carr writes a column each Monday on the front page of the Business Day section. He rarely has a thing to say in these columns.

(His claim to fame—his distinguishing mark within the business—is the fact that he was once a drug addict, a situation he described in his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun. Why did Carr write a memoir at all? Because he was once an addict!)

Yesterday, Carr had nothing to say about the alleged Oscar snub. But his piece ran 1332 words. Hard-copy headline included, this is the way he started:
CARR (1/19/15): Oscar Glitter Is Starkly White This Year

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and given the context, it is an interesting moment to ask whether it really matters that the motion picture academy failed to nominate the black director and the black lead actor of ''Selma,'' the King biopic, for Oscars.

After all, it lands fairly low on the list of indignities visited on African-Americans:
No unarmed people died, no innocent citizens were patted down or jailed.

But yes, it still matters. The news continues to be full of all manner of pathology and victimization involving black Americans, and when a moment comes to celebrate both a historical giant and a pure creative achievement, it merits significant and broad recognition.

Many would say that it should suffice that ''12 Years a Slave,'' a film by a black director about black history, won best picture last year, and ''Selma'' was nominated this year, and that any grievance is a conjured one. I disagree.
For Carr, this constituted a racial question from his first paragraphs on. At the present time, it’s the only play our tribe knows.

To his credit, Carr doesn’t use the term “snub” until his eighth paragraph. As he starts, he only notes the fact that the Academy “failed to nominate” Selma’s director and its lead actor.

That said, Carr describes this state of affairs as one of the “indignities” being “visited on African-Americans.” According to Carr, the snub “lands fairly low on the list” of such racial indignities. But it is on the list!

That’s a rather serious charge for a “journalist” to lodge. In 1332 words, the empty fellow with nothing to say makes no real attempt to support it.

Let’s be fair! When Carr finally refers to the “snub,” he softens his racial accusations a tad. But he’s happy to speculate and insinuate about the motives of unknown people.

His math is slightly off. His logic is hard to locate:
CARR: 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. Among other problems, Paramount thought that ''Interstellar'' would be its big Oscar horse for the year and jumped on ''Selma'' as the better bet only when awards season heated up. The movie was completed near the end of the year, and the screeners came late and somewhat sporadically. Perhaps that partly explains why ''Selma,'' which was second to ''Boyhood'' in critical acclaim as measured by Metacritic, received just two nominations, for best picture and best song.

But in general, the academy and the industry it mirrors manage diversity the same way that corporate America does, by ticking off boxes. That means that after Kathryn Bigelow won as best director in 2010 for ''The Hurt Locker''—the only female director to have won in the award's 87 years—there was no reason to even nominate her again for the extraordinary ''Zero Dark Thirty.'' The ''woman thing'' had been checked off already. And it also means that even though ''12 Years a Slave'' won best picture, its director, Steve McQueen, did not receive similar acclaim because that win took care of ''the black thing.'' (Many have noted that this year, although nine black actors were nominated in the last six years, not a single person of color is among the 20 nominated lead and supporting actors.)
Among other analytical problems, Carr dont seme too count reel gudd. In fact, eleven nominations went to black actors in the six years before this year; three of those actors were winners. (For list, see below.) The number is ten nominations in six years if we start counting this year.

That may or may not seem like “enough.” But those are the actual numbers.

Can we talk? In the ten years preceding this year (in 2005 through 2014), the Academy gave 24 nominations to black actors. (By our count. See list below.) But so what? As Carr mind-reads his way through a thoroughly muddled piece, he explains that last year’s selection of Twelve Years A Slave as Best Picture somehow explains this year’s “snub” of Oyelowo for best actor.

Or something! The logic is hard to define and follow. But as it was scripted, the insinuations and accusations run all through the piece.

Did Oyelowo deserve a nomination? Watching the film, we wondered why anyone would have thought that. But Carr says Oyelowo was “snubbed”—and he says the snub constitutes an indignity due to race.

That’s a very serious charge, except to scripted people with nothing to say and except to us pseudo-liberals. With that in mind, we recommend a reading experiment.

Go ahead! Read Carr’s lengthy piece. See if you can find a single place where he asserts or defends the claim that Oyelowo gave one of the year's five best performances.

We can find no such assertion at any point in the column. We can find no defense of any such assertion.

Instead, we find a series of passages where Carr says that Selma deserved more nominations as a matter of politics. This is just one example:
CARR: ''Selma'' may not have been the belle of the awards season, but it was certainly a target. Before the movie's release, Lyndon B. Johnson loyalists began taking shots at its accuracy. Did ''Selma'' cut some corners and perhaps tilt characters to suit the needs of the story? Why yes—just like almost every other Hollywood biopic and historical film that has been made. This is not a movie that endangers L.B.J.'s legacy, it cements King's at a near perfect moment in history and should be celebrated as such.
According to Carr, Selma “cements King's [legacy] at a near perfect moment in history and should be celebrated as such.”

Let’s assume that first assessment is accurate. Let’s assume this Best Picture nominee film really does “cement King's [legacy] at a near perfect moment in history.”

Let’s assume that's accurate. What can that possibly have to do with the question of Oyelowo’s performance? How could that mean that there weren’t five performances that were better?

Earth to Carr:

The film itself was “celebrated,” with a Best Picture nomination! Oh sorry—Selma was overwhelmingly snubbed!

We’re sorry, scripted race-baiting pseudo-liberals. We’re sorry—we almost forgot!

Tomorrow: Bad arguments from us ditto-heads

Taking a look at the record: Is it possible that Oscar voters didn’t think Oyelowo’s performance was all that hot? Is it possible they simply didn't think it was one of the year's five best?

They’ve nominated a bunch of black actors! Below, you see the list:
Nominated for acting Oscars, 2005-2014:
2014: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Barkhad Abdi, Lupita Nyong'o
2013: Denzel Washington, Quvenzhané Wallis
2012: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
2010: Morgan Freeman, Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique
2009: Viola Davis, Taraji Henson
2008: Ruby Dee
2007: Forest 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
Do all these people identify as “black?”

As far as we know, they do. But despite the race play our tribe has divined, none of these actors got snubbed!

Did Oyelowo get snubbed this year? People! Because our tribe knows only one trick, the answer to that was quite clear.


  1. Maybe the Academy should have separate-but-equally-prestigious categories for black actors and black films. Then everyone could be happy!

    1. That is the way India has approached its diversity issues. It seems to me there is a de facto expectation that a certain quota of awards will go to black people. Else, why the talk about snubbing?

  2. the fact that Ave DuVernay wasn't nominated for best director while her film was nominated for best picture is pretty accurately described as a "snub." and it's been described that way in the past when white directors were not nominated but their films were. (there's a reason that the gag "did this film direct itself?" is a cliché at this point. We can debate whether the "snub" of DuVernay was racially motivated (or sexist). But by historical standards of Hollywood, it is a snub.

    1. Perhaps the academy felt the film was effective in spite of her, not because of her efforts. How reasonable is it for a first-time director to expect an Oscar nomination?

    2. The academy cannot feel. And, to quote Bob the Blogger, you "dont seme too count reel gudd" when you imply DuVernay is a first time director.

      In 2012, she became the first African American woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance Film Festival. She won the award for her second feature, Middle of Nowhere (2012). That would make Selma her third feature.

    3. that isn't as much the case now since up to 10 movies can get the nod while only 5 directors can. Also only directors vote for director while the entire academy votes for picture. In any case, three movies this year had to get nods with no nod for their directors at the least.

  3. The "liberal script" that calls for finding omnipresent racism generally doesn't extend to minorities other than blacks. E.g., Asians constitute 4.75% of Americans. That's a substantial amount. I have no idea whether Asians get more or less than 4.75% of Oscars. My point is, the liberal bean-counters aren't even asking this question.

  4. Bob's only trick too it seems.

  5. Good God! How could the Hollywood Reporter say Tom Hanks was "snubbed" in 2014 by not getting an Oscar noimination? He had been nominated five times before and won twice.

    1. Nobody said he was snubbed for being white.

    2. Just like a liberal to bring race into it, @ 4:29

  6. No doubt Quentin Tarantino was snubbed in 2013 due to his race thanks to black reactions to Django Unchained.

  7. I'm actually shocked that "Selma" was nominated for Best Picture. As these types of histo-fiction movies go, it wasn't very good.

    1. What were your favorite histo-fiction films?

    2. Different anon, for the sake of conversation how about The Battle of Algiers being a good example.

    3. Lincoln? The Wolf of Wall Street? A Beautiful Mind? Argo? 12 Years a Slave?

    4. Well, if you want to converse with those over, say, 65, it might be a good example.

    5. Lincoln and Argo are two interesting choices since both contained historical inaccuracies noted by Maureen Dowd but whose objections are not mentioned by Bob Somerby since they don't fit his liberal-on-race script.

    6. "12 Years A Slave" had an invented rape scene and depictions of a slave owner at odds with the memoir on which it is based, but no living ex-aides of a President to object.

      "The Wolf of Wall Street" was based on what the real prosecutor in the case calls a self aggrandizing memoir at odds with the truth. He writes "“The Wolf of Wall Street” creators can possibly justify excluding victims from their story, but not while they literally give the final scene to the real Jordan Belfort. That might be art, but it’s wrong."

      "A Beautiful Mind" is full of fiction and invention. But it got best picture, its cast was nominated, and the Oscar for direction went to Opie.

      Film critic Bob Somerby of course never mentioned any of these films. They didn't fit his script. He did pan Django Unchained, though.

    7. 9:20@ Well then, if I can broaden the horizons of just one whippersnapper then it will have all been worth it LOL. Arguably the standard of the genre, an amazing trailer.

  8. How can a movie win Best Film and not win Best Director? Who does the Academy imagine was responsible for the film's success?

    Directors working under American studios who never won an Oscar despite making iconic movies. The Academy has a history for having their collective heads up their gluteus maximus. Why would race be an excuse when pettiness and sheer stupidity has been the hallmark for their selections.

    Alfred Hitchcock
    Howard Hawks
    Orson Welles
    Sam Peckinpah
    Fritz Lang
    Ernst Lubitsch
    Stanley Kubrick,
    Arthur Penn,
    John Cassavetes,
    Otto Preminger
    Sidney Lumet

  9. Ah, so Somerby is using the "Some of our best Oscar nominees are black" excuse.

  10. So, every black film should win an Oscar because it is so hard being black and slavery.

    1. Somerby, meet your new readership.

    2. That's the warped gist of it, yes.

    3. Please explain what merits of the film or director have been part of this discussion other than blackness? Otherwise, STFU.

    4. The film was 'pure creative acheivement" to a noted culture critics. A failed comedian called it lifeless in both its script and scenes. A major columnist called its actors "dazzling", scenes "delicately wrought" and compared the director's storytelling skills to Scheherezade.

    5. Unfortunately much of the creativity involved jaw-droppingly egregious fictions about significant historical events.

    6. "A major columnist said..." Do people really say things like that? What sort of people are they, one wonders.