Thanks to reader Piers for the link to this video where Lupita Nyong’o and current Best Supporting Actress frontrunner talks about how she learned about race by coming to America. Nyong’o says that she and Steve McQueen were more concerned with finding the truth in the character and not so much with making a broader statement. She said she hoped there would be discussion on a bigger platform. Well, I hate to break it to her but unfortunately here in American, and especially in Hollywood, no one really wants to talk about race.
It is a continual presence in our American lives – something people who don’t live here can’t really understand. Part of the problem once you leave behind the history is Hollywood’s own complicit participation in perpetuating oppression and stereotypes. Things are worse today for people of color and women in Hollywood films than they ever have been. So here’s to hoping discussions will be had and had and had and had until perceptions change.
As it is, with regard to the Oscar race, we’re left with two movies about slavery at all to enter the Best Picture race before 12 Years a Slave – Gone with the Wind in 1939 and Django Unchained in 2012. I mean, really Hollywood? There were vocal protests of the way slaves were portrayed in Gone with the Wind – but those protests mostly went unheard by Hollywood because look at all that money they made. Statues to go around, a big celebration and the template for how Hollywood would tell the story of the Civil War, through the eyes of its white participants.