Diversity in Hollywood continues to be a topic to be discussed and in recent years much has been said about the place of black actors as well as the stories they can tell to be considered for the big awards of the year, especially the Oscars. This makes many upset when they see the diversity of actors in the different categories, but for them there may be a major problem behind the whole thing and that is that you have to take into account what roles they are nominated for in the first place. Samuel L Jacksonwho on several occasions has said that he does not care about the Oscar, knows perfectly well what role could bring him closer to the award due to the clear tendencies of the Academy.
As with the LGBTQ+ community, African-Americans were considered for very specific roles in movies, and this continued for decades. In the case of gays, lesbians or transsexuals, the characters were left almost as filler or as a joke, but when a film sought to use them as a mechanism to provoke the audience to tears, then they gave the role to heterosexual actors who in the end were Oscar nominees for their intense transformation work. The clearest examples are Heath Ledger Y Jake Gyllenhaal in Secret in the mountains (87%) Y Felicity Jones for Transamerica (76%).
Although Hollywood did go through a blackface stage from which they have not been able to completely get rid of, currently, when it comes to black stories, another resource is used for their exploitation. For example, there are several stories where the white man is the great savior, despite the fact that the plot has to do with black slavery. In the same way, on many occasions the roles that are most recognized are those that promote certain tendentious clichés such as drug addiction, poverty, criminality and domestic service, something that has been reflected in films praised by critics such as Crossed Stories (76%) either Precious (91%).
Of course, when some have played real-life characters they have also been recognized, but it is because it surpasses that other Oscar trend in which, almost automatically, biopics are appreciated and awarded. When it comes to fiction, some experts have seen these problems and wonder what roles black actors are being nominated for and what this means for the equality that is so sought after.
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Some actors take it more seriously than others, not because it doesn’t matter but because they know they are in a system that has been trying to change for years and in the end they recognize that a simple nomination goes a long way to give visibility to their work. Samuel L Jacksonfor example, is one of the most recognizable names in the medium and although this year he received an honorary statuette, he has never gotten very far in the Oscar competition, something that has been highly criticized by experts.
For him, his work and what he has done with his life have nothing to do with getting that top award or not, but he also accepts that he hoped to go further with the character of Stephen in Django Unchained (87%). In interview with Los Angeles Timesthe actor explained:
Everything I’ve done for Quentin has had a moment that has given me an opportunity, from Jackie Brown to The Hated 8 to Django.
Django was probably my best shot. [para el Oscar] because he’s the most evil character I’ve ever played and black people are generally rewarded for playing shitty people.
The actor does not say this with annoyance, but almost as a mockery, since the trend followed by the Academy is clear.
In recent years, more visibility has been given to African-American creators, and this has caused all kinds of responses. Some believe it’s a genuine breakthrough and others believe it’s more of hypocrisy at its best, with some adding that it’s an audience-heavy device and not real recognition. The conflict is definitely real, something that was exemplified by Green Book: A Friendship Without Borders (78%)a film that was widely recognized for dealing with the issue of racism, but which was also highly criticized for doing it from the perspective of a white man.
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Samuel L. Jackson Says the Oscar Only Recognizes Black Actors When They Play Evil Characters
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