Whether you support the Smith’s in their endeavor to boycott the Oscars and request for support (And yes, it’s true, Jada Pinkett Smith did NOT ask anyone to support her in her video, but as the intelligent human beings that we pride ourselves on being, we know the implication and expectation of support is overt or else why bother making the video in the first place, why not simply boycott without the announcement?) these are a few points that have crossed my mind as we deliberate on how successful they will be, how much power this power couple really wields and if this act of boycotting will get the Academy’s attention and somehow affect change within the committee.
The committee is comprised of majority (more than 90 percent) senior-citizen aged members (read-average age 63+) who are White. My disclaimer for the previous statement is, just because they are of a particular age/demographic doesn’t automatically mean they have no regard for the plight of Black actors in Hollywood getting work and proper recognition for the work they do manage to win. However, my OPINION is that when you don’t have experience in a particular situation, it’s very hard to TRULY understand the plight of others-no matter what the situation revolves around–and on that note, I’m speaking from experience (a totally different blog entry, but I digress), so I’m standing on the fact that I believe the committee really has no idea what it feels like to constantly be excluded, no matter how hard you work for acceptance and recognition because they more than likely inherited everything they have, which means acceptance is a given for them. The rest are probably of the attitude, “I got mine, you’d better get yours!” Yep, I meant that!
Any way, here are my Discussion Points regarding Jada Pinkett-Smith’s video stating her intent to boycott the Oscars and asking for support in her endeavor:
1. Did the academy purposely choose a Black man to host the Oscars expecting this backlash because they knew they weren’t nominating any Black actors for an Oscar this year?
2. Should Chris Rock bow out of hosting the Oscars because Jada posted a message asking for support in her boycotting of the Oscars?
3. Does Jada speak for Will? Is he in support of boycotting the Oscars?
4. Is Jada calling for a boycott merely because Will wasn’t nominated? If not, why hasn’t she called for a boycott in years prior to Will acting in a movie that was felt to be Oscar-worthy?
5. I’m not implying that this applies to Chris Rock because he has also surpassed being merely “rich”, he has amassed wealth, but by asking for support in boycotting the Oscars, the Smith’s are asking other Black actors to put their livelihood in jeopardy, have they (she) thought of this? Have they thought about the backlash that comes with publicly thumbing your nose at an organization as powerful as the Academy?
6. Lastly, I wonder, when actors, Black, White, Red, Purple, Yellow, etc. — when you come to Hollywood and pursue your acting career, what is the real goal? Is the goal to make a living as an actor? Is the goal to win awards? I’m sure it’s a mixture of both, but essentially, what we all want, whether it is acting, being a secretary, practicing medicine, law or playing the banjo, isn’t the goal to have a measure of security doing something we love that doesn’t feel like work? Whatever happened to just being happy to have a measure of financial comfort and have fun doing work we love to do? Why does everything have to be so political? Isn’t there enough fighting in the world without picking a fight about a damn award?
I know, they are on a whole other level because they have accomplished so much, but I really think the Smith’s are a bit too removed from the realness of what it means to survive in this world by asking others to put their livelihood in jeopardy.
I know, I know, the next thought is, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” but my stance is, “I stand for being able to keep a roof over my family’s head and keep my lights on.” Something tells me that these actors they are asking to stand in solidarity with them, these actors that get a gig once a year and have to figure out how to support themselves for the rest of the year on unemployment or other jobs that are unrelated to the entertainment industry. (On a side note, it really struck me that while watching the reality show, Raising Whitley, her realtor was a woman that we’ve seen in movies, Mari Morrow. Did she become a realtor because she really wanted to? Or did she become a realtor to keep the lights on and support herself/family/lifestyle in a way that acting roles simply would not?)
The Smith’s have so much money that they live in a “compound”. They have started their own school. They have time to go to Washington, DC and speak to Congress about causes that are near and dear to them. They don’t have to worry about where their next check is coming from. They don’t have to worry about how they are going to pay rent. They don’t have to worry about how they are going to pay for their kid’s education. Essentially, they have amassed wealth that is generational; their kids will never have to worry about money, that’s how much wealth they have accumulated, yet they are asking people who, most of the Black Hollywood community, are not in the same financial position as them to put their future earnings at risk. I wonder if they have thought of this as they are asking their fellow Black actors to stay home from the Oscars, which equates to closing deals (getting their next job) on the golf course by merely putting themselves in the same room with the producers, directors and studio executives that attend the Oscars.
While I understand their position and their outrage, as the saying goes, Will and Jada, and I say this with much respect to you for your persistence and success in the world of entertainment, one monkey don’t stop no show.
The committee has established a tradition of nominating actors, movies and talent that they deem worthy of the award. Maybe this is a sign of my nearsightedness, but I just don’t believe that a boycott will make them take notice. The only thing that will make anyone take notice is if you find a way to affect their bottom line. How about being more proactive about what you desire and working a little harder to find a solution? While I don’t know what that plan might be, maybe encourage people of color to only see movies WITH people of color, or something along those lines. Whatever it is, I suggest working a little harder to find a way to affect the bottom line of the committee–that is more likely to get their attention than staying home, pouting and discussing how unfair life is…life is much more unfair for many more people than those that were overlooked for an award.