In “Burn Hollywood Burn,” Chuck D sang, “Hollywood or would they not, make us all look bad like I knew they had!” How many people actually remember this song, let alone this particular lyric? It’s from the 1990 classic LP “Fear of a Black Planet” by Public Enemy.
If you’re one of those who remember, wasn’t it ironic that O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (along with Big Daddy Kane) was featured on the quoted track? Since the quarter of a century that passed since the release of that single, Cube has become a serious player in the system they sought to overthrow.
In fact, his latest work, “Ride Along 2,” knocked the box office juggernaut “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” off the No. 1 perch, where it resided in for four weeks. Meanwhile, the film “Straight Outta Compton,” which was based on situations involving his rise to prominence, while critically acclaimed and had great box office numbers, was, for the most part, inconspicuously absent from Academy Award contention.
A closer look at exactly what and who received nods reveals that ethnic diversity in general will be sorely lacking at the award ceremony, save for host Chris Rock. As a result, Jada Pinkett Smith took to the Internet and posted a controlled yet passionate plea for African-Americans to look within to seek credibility and recognition.
“Begging for acknowledgement or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power; and we are a dignified people and we have power. So let’s not forget it,” she said. “So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love, and we do us, differently.”
She revealed at the tail end of her post that she won’t be in attendance nor will she watch, and that reaction has been piggybacked by a growing number.
Theatrically that sounds good, but is that a plan? Comparatively speaking, the Hollywood machine runs much like the Matrix that Pinkett Smith opposed in her role as Niobe in the film franchise.
The foundation of the business of motion pictures was a film called “Birth Of A Nation.” That was the original Blockbuster film. Critics loved it, Americans flocked to it and at the expense of whom? Has much really changed? Granted, in recent memory we can cite Cuba Gooding Jr., Forest Whitaker, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Lupita Nyong’o, Octavia Spencer, Monique, Steve McQueen, John Ridley, Isaac Hayes, Three 6 Mafia and the duo of John Legend and Common have all won Oscars. Has any of those achievements moved the meter in the direction of significant change? Be honest with yourself, has it? In fact, that pervasive attitude extends to media invited to cover the event.
Fail to plan, then you plan to fail. I’m all aboard for a strategy, but until that materializes, how about writers, actors and directors focus on doing consistently great work?
I’m out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.