Friday, January 22, 2016

What is behind the scandal around the “Oscar”? – BBC Russian

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Image caption Spouses Smith at the February ceremony “Oscars”, is not likely to appear

Hollywood scandal. Respectable American Film Academy, was in charge of nominations and the award of “Oscars” of the main and the most prestigious awards in world cinema, was accused of racism – among the 20 nominees for acting awards this year, no African-American.

The permeated political correctness America accusation laughing and voices already in full with the requirements of the intended boycott the February 28 ceremony. What is behind this scandal? Kinoakademikov really embraced the sudden attack of racial intolerance? In black filmmakers in the past year, in fact, there was no outstanding achievements? Or we see another explosion of requirements so-called positive discrimination – that is, the privileges and advantages of the previously oppressed minority?

The answers to these difficult questions host of “Fifth Floor” Alexander Kan is trying to find via the US film critic Oleg Sulkin and chief editor of the Russian edition of the magazine “Hollywood Reporter” Alexander Folin.

Download the podcast program “Fifth floor” here.

Alexander Kahn: Your magazine, Alexander, is engaged in lighting the most direct way of the events that take place in the capital of the US and, without exaggeration, world cinema. The problem of racism, the problem of representation of black Afro-American actors, filmmakers in the “Oscar” does not arise for the first time. This is indicated by a great deal and for a long time. This year, when published the lists of nominees, when you saw them for the first time, you as a person experienced keeper for filmmaking and all this industry nominations without any suspicion or a hunch that this could result in another scandal?

Alexander Folin: premonition perhaps arose. Another thing is that the statement about some racist views of academics seem to me somewhat far-fetched. In fact, if you look at some of the people from any strata of society in terms of age, sex, race is the American Film Academy, we see that with equal success claims Oscar committee can bring women, people of young age. In fact the situation is that today is not about racism, it is necessary to speak, but rather on the conservatism of inertia, because since then, in the late twenties, was founded the American Film Academy, she has changed very little in its charter, in its composition.

Today we are dealing with older people. The main contingent – the people behind 60. Accordingly, this influential people in the movie business, to prove to everybody who they are, and having the right to say something, something to judge. In general, it is all the people who for so long in this business, that in those years when they started, about racism to speak simply was not necessary, because as black filmmakers and Latin American in Hollywood was very, very small.

If you take the age limit if they are limited, ie only those filmmakers who really have weight in Hollywood, we are faced with the fact that, in essence, is the reality. Not in this age group a sufficient number of black professionals to have a relatively larger percentage of the total number of members.

AK.: This is your idea is clear. To prove it, I will give some figures. True, they are a little dated, is the data in 2012. A survey conducted newspaper Los Angeles Times. This survey involved 5,100 members of the Academy – at that time 89% of those voting. Here are the results of this study. 94% are members of academicians white Caucasians, 77% of them are men, only 2% of blacks, less than 2% are Hispanic. The average age of academics 62 years old, people under 50 years account for only 14% of the total number of respondents.

Some of the 15 departments of the Academy Award consist almost entirely of white males. White make up 90 percent or more in every department of the Academy, with the exception of acting, where the white a little less – 88%. These are the numbers, so that in this sense, Alexander, you are quite precisely defined, apparently, only one of the reasons for this situation.

Oleg, as you already understood, Alexander He explains the problem is not so much racist as conservative, high age, a certain old-fashioned members of the American Film Academy. How in your opinion, is this true assessment, and whether to reduce the problem only to this?

Oleg Sulkin: First, the art is not subject to the number of math. What I mean? I mean that in general the whole idea of ​​the Prize for the movie bears the stamp of irrationality vkusovschiny, some natural sentiment, subconscious emotions, all that which is not, for example, in science. After all, we do not resent the fact that the Nobel Prize was prepared mostly older white men. Statistics: Nobel prizes awarded since the beginning of the XX century, just over 800 laureates, of which only 15 blacks.

From these 15, eleven received the Peace Prize, including US President Barack Obama. Three people received awards for literature. And only a Nobel Prize for the time of its existence has got the black scientist for the study of economics. We do not resent it, no one does not declare a boycott of the Nobel Academy? Why? Because it is a science.

Here everything is quite irrational, all quite vague. I would like to say a few words in defense of the older white men. America was founded elderly white man. They wrote a constitution and bill of rights. One of the older white man named Abraham Lincoln freed the black Americans. Reform Academy infusion to groups not represented at that time – something that is, in my view, ultra-and, accordingly, it is very suspicious. President of the Academy, by the way – a black American with the surname Isaacs apparently very afraid of criticism, announced and promised everything would be radical reform of admission to the Academy.

In particular, she said that would be considered gender, race and ethnicity and sexual preference. I can hardly imagine how the respected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts will conduct the interviews. There are two talented actors, or they choose the two talented actors, directors, producers – all kinotseham. And what they will ceteris paribus to give preference to the color of the skin, by race, of sexual identity? To me it is very similar to the notorious affirmative action program.

AK.: I do not accidentally have used the phrase, calling it, however, positive discrimination. So, probably, too, you can translate a term that is now operating in the United States. On the other hand, objecting to you, Oleg, we can say that science is science, art is art. These are two different spheres of human activity. Probably, in order to achieve outstanding success in science is so outstanding to get the Nobel Prize, you need to study for many years, worked for many years.

a young man with no education is absolutely impossible and unattainable. Art is still a few other areas. I recall that three years ago for the title of best actress was nominated and rightly nominated nine years old Kuinzan Wallis. She brilliantly played in the drama “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. She did not win, but a girl of nine years was nominated for Best Actress, by the way, a black girl. So the whole process of positive discrimination is largely justified, in fact, is a kind of reaction to the century and decades of oppression and discrimination experienced by black Americans.

Let us remember what the sensation was in 1963, the first time a black actor Sidney Poitier won an Oscar for his role in the film “Lilies of the Field.” Then another black actors and other stars simply did not exist. It was a huge breakthrough. It was another good three and a half decades before another black actor Denzel Washington in 2001, won an Oscar. By the time the actors have been much more, and much has already been nominated. A particular element of the necessary response to this positive discrimination is. Alexander, as you see, in relation to the movie, anyway?

AF.: I have a position on this matter quite clear. I believe that if we talk about quotas in fact, a hit in the short list of black filmmakers solely on the quota because it is necessary, because it is required to, for example, among the five nominees for one must be black, then each nomination will always wear the imprint of a political nature and will, in my opinion, cause some rumors. Accordingly, the value of this award would be extremely questionable.

My opinion is that getting into the short-list for the quota – it is insulting, it’s more racism than what today accused Oscar committee. I think that should be worthy of winning. The color of their skin – the tenth question. If we’re talking about America today, the question of racism – which is already a fad. How to scare terrorists because all the terms are now afraid of this racism. As far as I know, grows no smaller scale scandal involving gender policy.

As you know, when leaked to the network files by Sony, Jennifer Lawrence, taking advantage of his fame, knowing that on the set her current job while she paid substantially less than her male colleagues, sharply raised the question of what, in her opinion, the fees are determined in Hollywood totally chauvinist way. This, in my opinion, much bigger problem than the issue of racism. There are all now so afraid of accusations of racism that will think ten times before you do something that could eventually lead to a charge of this.

If today it so happened that among the nominees no a black filmmaker, it is likely, it is an objective fact that this year the white filmmakers were simply stronger. That’s it, at least from the point of view of the Oscar committee, which we have today.

AK.: Let’s try to understand whether there is including some films of the past year, including the roles of black actors and actresses that was truly worthy of attention and missed Film Academy. Call Idris Elba for her role in “Rootless beasts,” Will Smith for his role in the film “The Defender”. A documentary called “The Voice of the street” or “Straight out of Compton.” This documentary about the black rap group NWA Another recall and Samuel L. Jackson in the film Tarantino’s “disgusting eight”. I do not know that yet. Oleg, do you think the role of the Academy missed true?

O.S.: This complex issue. For example, I like the movie “Rootless beasts,” and a very good role played by Idris Elba. I believe that he deserves would enter one of the five nominees. I did not like the film, which translates as “Defender”, “Concussion” where Will Smith plays an African doctor, who found very controversial, painful regularity among professional football players and actually became whistleblowers who wants to tell the terrible truth about some important hidden things. Picture weak.

The question is: can we nominate an actor, even remarkable, such as Will Smith, who is trying to pull out his role in a fairly average picture? Year on year is not necessary. I started with the fact that it is art. There vkusovschina here fashion, there are preferences. They are not rational character. It is very difficult to predict. If it was so easy, I think everybody would be great to forecast the results of an Oscar. For example, I am wrong half the time. I play this game on the “Globe” and “Oscar” and write themselves, who would win. Usually half I guess. Why? Because I do not know, nobody knows it.

I would like to say more about this. I agree with Alexander about the deadlock of the way. But look who initiated this scandal? Jada Pinkett Smith – Will Smith’s wife, who was not nominated. It, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy and a few more. This is the elite of Hollywood. They complain about the harassment to their multimillion-dollar fees and palaces in Beverly Hills, even as a tactless towards their fellow tribesmen, who live in a much more difficult situation.

Please note that no one talks about Latinos, the second most populous in the United States of minority communities. They are about 17% in America, and blacks – 15%. But Latinos somehow silent, but if you look at the lists, they, too, is not acting nominations, and in the category “Best Film”, “Best Director” there is only one – the Mexican Inarritu.

AK.: In the last year he won the best director. His film was the best film, and this year he has enough real chance of winning. I would like to raise another question. You, Oleg, always hope for things that cinema is an art -. But the film – it’s also a business. The American film industry, despite the fact that it is the flesh and blood of American culture, American life, but the money he earns not only on the US domestic market, but also in the world market.

Your colleague Yuri Gladilschikov today published on Forbes website article dedicated to this issue. He says, quote, “the Oscar ceremony as an important component of the world of show business is also subject to the principle of demand. She rules of the rating, and the rating is determined by the fact how many viewers watched the Oscar broadcast in Japan, China and India, Latin America and even Africa . And the viewers are eager to witness all the same Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley, at the very least re-nominated Jennifer Lawrence. ” This business component, we must also take into account? Alexander, what do you think?

AF.: I agree with Yuri. Oscar ceremony – is primarily a show. The show is incredibly rating, he has billions of views. Of course, they think about who will win in the end. For them, it is important to win the really big stars, if not in all categories, but mostly. Let’s be honest. No one will be watching the Oscar ceremony, when the stage will go mostly completely obscure actors, directors, and receive their statuettes for movies that nobody really saw.

Of course, they are interested to have won Therefore now promoted films and guests. This is actually a common problem. This is not only an Oscar, it refers to any large events. I can draw a parallel with the recent, also related rumors award ceremony “Golden Ball” in football. How many were talking about the person who will receive. I watched this ceremony, and I think that when a football player received the award for the best goal of the year on his face it was written that he knows that he won, not because he really was the best, but because it was necessary to to support the Latin American football. Obviously, he was not the best. I had a feeling that he understands his face was written puzzling – why me? In my view, it is clear – pure politics. The Oscars are absolutely the same. Such parallels can result from many different areas.

AK.: On the other hand, let us remember, when there was a year or two years ago, the movie “12 years slavery “, shot black afrobritantsem director Steve McQueen. I must say, it is a wonderful director. This film received three “Oscars”, including as the best film of the year, and performers of all positive role, too, received their role. Lupita Nyong’o received the “Oscar” for Best Supporting Actress. When there is really excellent, brilliant, colorful film, made by black filmmakers, do not miss it. Maybe this year or poorly formed for black actors, and it makes no sense to inflate this such a huge problem. Apparently, in the course of our conversation, it comes down to it your view, do not you, Oleg?

O.S.: I have summarized my point of two maxims. First – what with political correctness, you can reach the point of absurdity. God forbid that the academy, which I very much respect as a very liberal community of America, did not go on this way.


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