Don’t know if you watched the Oscars on Sunday night. If you didn’t, you were in the vast majority. It was the third-lowest rated since they’ve been televised. With all the hoopla about blacks being snubbed, you’d think people would’ve been tuning in in droves. They didn’t.
I must admit that I enjoy the Oscars. I even watch the pre-Oscars red carpet show. Before you come for my man card, I have a good excuse. I love movies. I love how they’re made. I love how they’re written. I’m just fascinated with the biz. This year, I turned the Oscars off after 45 minutes.
I love Chris Rock but I simply got ‘diversity fatigue.’ The whole opening monologue was about how Hollywood is racist. Yes, there were some very funny lines, but the subject was worth three minutes of attention, tops. Instead, every bit, every reference, every everything was about how Hollywood isn’t diverse enough.
You know, it’s funny but I never hear these same people saying the NBA isn’t diverse enough. In fact, it never occurs to me, as a white man, to question why there aren’t more white folks playing. The reason is the NBA, and most organized sports, rely on one thing, and it’s not diversity. It’s excellence.
When I’m watching basketball not only do I not care what race they are, I never think about it. I love seeing Steph and LeBron, Durant and Griffin, Kyrie and Carmelo, Duncan and Kobe. I’m a bigger college basketball fan than I am pro. My team is the North Carolina Tar Heels. You’re sure the Heels have the game well in hand when the white boys come in at the end. Is that racist? No, it’s just a matter of fact.
Why can’t the movies be the same? Why can’t we just celebrate good movies without people worrying about diversity? Excellence always floats to the top. Look at Denzel Washington. I can’t think of any actor in modern times — maybe in any time — that can hold a candle to Denzel. Jamie Foxx is another great actor. Notice I didn’t qualify it by saying ‘black’ actor.
The movie that allegedly got snubbed this time around was Straight Outta Compton. Here’s the problem. The acting in that flick was average at best. That’s why the screenplay was nominated for an Oscar and the movie wasn’t. Great idea, poor execution.
It’s not like white folks won’t pay to watch black people perform. Denzel sells millions of dollars worth of movie tickets. The NFL packs ‘em in every Sunday, primarily to see black athletes at their best. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made a grave mistake buckling to the political correctness of the quota crowd. Next year, when there will most certainly be scads of black actors and so-called ‘black films’ nominated, one will be left wondering if they actually deserved the recognition or are a product of Hollywood’s new quota system. Not only is that not fair to those actors and films left out at their expense, it’s not fair to the actors and films that win and are left with a cloud of doubt hanging over them.
You see, the most direct route to a world in which race or racism play no role is to recognize excellence and only excellence. Diversity is the buzzword of racists. People whose primary goal it is to simply see more people of color care not a whit about excellence.
It’s that striving for excellence that makes us all better. Excellence knows no color. Excellence knows no race.
Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.