Racism in Hollywood -- Let's Look at the Facts

U.S actor Will Smith poses for photographers during the premiere of the film 'Concussion' in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, Jan
U.S actor Will Smith poses for photographers during the premiere of the film 'Concussion' in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo / Abraham Caro Marin)

It is difficult to browse any amount of news without stumbling upon themes of racism. African Americans have been particularly assiduous in promulgating perceived wrongs. The left-leaning progressives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put on display their blatant bigotry by, with presumptive malice aforethought, failing to nominate a single black actor for best lead actor/actress and only increased their ignominy by snubbing for supporting roles as well. Yes, the heretofore anonymous Academy voting rules were no doubt violated, circumvented and eschewed. Certainly, surreptitious cabals coalesced in proverbial back alley smoke-filled lairs with nefarious intentions to pervert justice and conspire against deserved nominations.

However, if one pauses momentarily and discards personal proclivities in exchange for dispassionate observation, perhaps there lies another possibility. Admittedly farfetched, is it conceivable that Academy members cast ballots based on convictions and years of film industry expertise, without regard to race or religion, and simply picked what they believe to be the best performances; that is the results reflected the meritocracy the Academy is intended to be? That decisions were designated completely on perceived skill of the artists and this year, for good or bad, that black actors and actresses just didn't make the final grade. And, if everything was fair and square and the outcome was, like all contests not relying solely on empiricism, disappointing for many, then what?

In today's perverse zeitgeist governed by the genre of political correctness, the above suggestion is heretical. Social progressive formulas demand it be impossible racism wasn't the motive for the nomination shutout. In our disconnected from reality world, accusations of racism can be levied by simply not liking the work of a (black) actor. The PC business model falls apart without the premise that prejudice hides under every rock in the park. It smolders in every tree in the forest. And the tinder that ignites a conflagration need be but an infinitesimal spark often undetectable in times past.

What number of nominations will satisfy these malcontents? Perhaps algorithms or quotas can rectify the iniquitous Academy machinations? Careful what you wish for; imagine the backlash of underrepresented white folks in the NBA and NFL.

Interestingly, it is Will Smith (IMO, one of the most talented actors in all of Hollywood) who is a leading voice in all the Oscar boycott buzz. Mr. Smith is a twice Oscar nominated, five-time Golden Globe nominated actor and an enormous box office draw. He lost both Oscar bids to other black actors. He owns a production company and has a reported net worth of nearly a quarter billion (yes, billion) dollars. Hollywood has been good to him. It is a gigantic oxymoron that Will Smith is carping over this completely unfounded evidence of Academy racism. He has earned his rarified position on his sheer talent and presumably hard work. Was his career stunted by the color of his skin?

Please don't worry. With political correctness forces scaling the ramparts, mercifully, the Academy immediately capitulated to these indictments and subsequently issued speedy and sweeping summary judgments by relevant cognoscente for their hallucinations of the Academy's deplorable behavior. Under some of the new rules hastily announced, voting members lose their rights if they have been inactive in the industry for three decades. I guess the theory is the disenfranchisement of a gaggle of old white men replaced with a more malleable voting base can rectify perceived wrongheaded tendentiousness.
Of course there is prejudice in the world; always has been and most probably always will be. Our goals to eradicate it are ongoing but tedious. Not the exclusive purview of blacks, it is experienced by an inexhaustible list of minorities be it for religion, skin color, or country of origin. Speaking with an accent, dressing differently, behaving outside local norms, all potentially subject people to ridicule.

The question becomes does it help race relations in America for some rich actors to rebuke a group of film industry professionals who vote independently of one another and, as Hollywood insiders, are certainly social progressives. Racism accusations lacking a scintilla of corroboration are eagerly glommed onto by a politically correct media and gain national headlines in newspapers and talk shows. Why is racism automatically the only possible conclusion for lack of nominations? Why is any other possibility not considered? The ethos of large swaths of our population is enamored with the victim mentality and denial of responsibility.

Accusations of prejudice to sully the Academy of Motion Picture Arts validated by zero hard evidence and only fantasy discredits all involved. There are endless real cases of racism backed by facts; we don't need to manufacture them. This unfortunate case does far more to separate people than bring them together.