Just going through my luggage, clearing out some things to make way for enlightenment
Monday, March 06, 2006And the winner is...
That statement was followed by some pretty amazing titles at last night's Oscar ceremony. Folks seem to be knocked for a loop at the announcement of Best Original Song. I have one friend who is actually stunned and appalled at the behavior of the artists at the ceremony. I shook my head a little too at the buffonery, but I value diversity.
The academy values diversity as well. I believe they are proud to award artists of color, who deliver performances worthy of recognition. I truly believe the lack of African American Oscar winners has more to do with a lack of worthy vehicles for performance than inherent racism. George Clooney said it best during his acceptance, when noting that the academy honored Hattie McDaniel at a time when Black folks were sitting in the back of the theater. She deserved it. I still have issues around Cuba Gooding, Jr for Jerry Maguire and Whoopi for Ghost, but who am I to judge?
For me, the song announcement wasn't that much of a shock. The nomination was a surprise, but after that, I knew there was a good chance it might win. True, throughout history, the category has been dominated by songs that have gone on to become part of the American popular song canon. Over the Rainbow, White Christmas, Moon River, The Way We Were, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and My Heart Will Go On are examples of the kinds of songs that have won consistently throughout the years. Eminem's 2005 win and 3:6 Mafia's 2006 honor are only incredible because they move Hip Hop further into the mainstream.
Diversity has never really been an issue in this category. After all, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie are all Best Original Song honorees. Other winners represent a variety of genders, ethnicities and nationalities. I think true diversity is exemplified in Ang Lee winning for directing the quintessentially American film Bareback Mountain and for Crash receiving the Best Picture award. Though not exemplary of diversity, big ups to my American sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon for honor. Now someone give her husband a job!
Saturday night we screened Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, the vehicle for Katharine Hepburn's 1968 Best Actress award. If you haven't seen it, get your ass over to Blockbuster. I had forgotten how absolutely marvelous it is. Hepburn's portrayal of a mother whose daughter brings home a Black fiancee (played flawlessly by Sidney Portier) is riveting. Though the film's main theme revolves around shock...
Weezy sizes up the new negro
Katharine's trademark shake first becomes obvious
Deer Spencer Tracy trapped in the headlights
The Blacks get the shock of their life
Roy Glenn finally shuts his mouth and Beah Richards let's go of her pearls
"Don't Speak. Just go."
William Rose's masterful writing, which also received an award that year, is as fresh today as it was then. What's even more interesting is how this film accurately reflects attitudes today, letting us know that not a whole lot has changed in regards to race relations. Folks still got issues.