David Oyelowo Calls Out Academy for Awarding Black Stereotypes


Oscars So White Update: In an interview at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, David Oyelowo said what a lot of critics have been saying for years about the Academy awarding black actors for playing stereotypical roles.

While Selma is up for Best Picture and Best Song this year, director Ava DuVernay was overlooked for Best Director and Oyelowo for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. The Hollywood Reporter notes that “for the first time since 2011, all 20 acting nominees are white.”

In response to the snubbing, Oyelowo referenced Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier, telling the interviewer:

“I felt this before the situation we’re talking about and I feel it now — generally speaking, we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative… We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world.”

When will we stop having to hear this frustrating, broken record argument? Oyelowo added that the problem starts with which films get green-lit in the first place:

“People have often said to me, ‘Why has it taken so long?’ I mean, he [King] was assassinated almost 50 years ago. There has been no film where Dr. King has been the center of his own narrative up until now. That’s because up until 12 Years a Slave and The Butler did so well, both critically and at the box-office, films like this were told through the eyes of white protagonists because there is a fear of white guilt.
“So you have a very nice white person who holds black people’s hands through their own narrative. We don’t want to see that pain again, so you don’t even go into what that pain was in an authentic way. Both of those things are patronizing to the audience. You can’t have people curating culture in this way when we need to see things in order to reform from them.”

The point once again is that the full range of blackness hasn’t been celebrated at the Oscars and we’re still waiting on Hollywood to catch up. At this point it’s still, Fuck the Oscars.

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