The Failure of the Grammys and the Oscars or…how Whiteness Wins even when it Loses.
Nia Hampton | Monday March 6th 2017
This past Black History Month was an emotional roller coaster. We had highs, (Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement) and we had lows, (TRUMP STILL OUT HERE TRUMPIN’) but we had some really exciting twists and turns. The twists and turns were dramatically administered by the Grammys and Oscars respectably. Adele’s acceptance speech for the Album of the Year at the Grammy’s set the tone for what I suspect is the first in a series of white repentance speeches. In which, white people who have benefited from their privilege, acknowledge it publicly and are then applauded for acknowledging their privilege. Respect to Adele for acknowledging the perfection that was “Lemonade” but breaking the award in half was- well awkward. You know what would have been better? Simply giving the award back. But I don’t think whiteness has evolved that far yet. But, you know what gets my goat up a hill about that night as well? Adele’s last album wasn’t even better than her other albums. Adele wasn’t even better than herself this time around, she damn sure was not touching “Lemonade” era Beyoncé. But I digress. Adele tried. I guess. Anyway. Fresh off the heels of this not so surprising upset, comes the Oscars.
Now, for what it’s worth the Oscars are different than the Grammys. The Oscars are inherently racist as American film culture is inherently racist and was literally created for and by racist white men. Don’t believe me? Research “Birth of a Nation”. It’s often thought of as the first feature length American film and it’s literally a film about the origin of the Klu Klux Klan. It’s an “American Classic” and one of the most successful commercial releases even to this day. So, keeping that in mind, I can never be surprised about the Oscars and the films they chose to uplift. But the Grammys? That’s literally built on black culture, so the continual disrespect and wilful ignorance they demonstrate in who they award and who they snub is just-nauseating.
So back to the Oscars- at the end of the program, after Viola won but Denzel was snubbed, we end with old ass Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway fumbling over the winner of Best Picture. After a brief pause they announce “La La Land” and people clap but there is a general murmur on stage. Later, producer of “La La Land”, Fred Berger comes to the mic and says, “by the way we lost” but then producer of “La La Land” Jordan Horowitz comes to the mic and says, “Guys, I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture.” And then there is an initial shock but then applause. And the Moonlight cast and crew get on stage and make really great speeches but what irritates me like a day old dirty diaper is how Kimmel makes jokes like “why can’t we just give everyone awards?” and then old ass Warren Beatty is all thanking producer Horowitz for handing over the award to Moonlight as if he had a choice to keep it.
How does La La Land get congratulated for giving the award that didn’t belong to them in the first place to it’s rightful owners? And now Moonlight’s historical win is overshadowed by La La Land’s mistake. Even when trying to do the right thing, these institutions that uphold white culture don’t quite get it right. And they don’t get it right on purpose, because they don’t want to get it right. The passive aggressive way Moonlight was awarded was intentional. It appears as if La La Land was gracious to give the award to the rightful winner, and that in itself is condescending and patronizing. As happy as I am that Moonlight won something it deserved, the manner in which the award was given should be enough to make viewers want to divest from the Oscars. And Adele can keep her broken Grammy too!
Graphic By Sophia-Gach Rasool.