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The Andrea Riseborough Race Storm
And how Hollywood went full woke.
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Buckle up because it’s about to get stupid.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but a “race storm” has erupted after a tragic development in the Hollywood world.
A white woman, an actress by the name of Andrea Riseborough, was an “unexpected nomination for a best actress Oscar for her performance in To Leslie.” And people are downright outraged at this development.
Because a white woman was nominated instead of a black woman. Black women were robbed, you see. This white woman was nominated for her excellent acting by people who thought her acting was excellent. The nerve. It’s supposed to be a matter of merit, but in the progressive world, the woke world, merit is a toxic racial construct upholding white supremacy, etc. etc.
Here’s the Guardian summarizing why this is so scandalous:
Following the Oscars nominations announcement last Tuesday, Till director Chinonye Chukwu denounced the film industry for “upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women”, and in a lengthy comment piece in the LA Times film critic Robert Daniels wrote: “Although it’s easy to point a finger at Riseborough for taking a slot from Black women, broken systems persist when we focus our ire on individuals … what does it say that the Black women who did everything the institution asks of them – luxury dinners, private Academy screenings, meet-and-greets, splashy television spots and magazine profiles – are ignored when someone who did everything outside of the system is rewarded?”
So, just to clarify, those sons of bitches at the Motion Picture Academy have inappropriately recognized a white woman and in so doing have harmed black women the world over. But it’s even worse than that, folks, because this white woman is some lowly “outside of the system” scrub who wasn’t even invited to “luxury dinners” for God’s sake. She has no seat at the cool kids table. This low-status, outsider white woman is the oppressor, you see, because she has deprived the black women above her of their due honors.
It gets worse still. As the Guardian notes, “To Leslie’s campaign was assisted by two PR companies, Narrative and Shelter, and appears to be self-funded, while Till and The Woman King were backed by deep-pocketed studios United Artists and Sony respectively.”
The victims of this racist oppression had the “deep-pocketed” backing of internationally recognized corporations, while the racist oppressor, lacking corporate benefactors, worked on a movie that had the temerity to pay for its own PR. So, the oppressed individuals enjoy far more money and status and power than the much poorer and less powerful oppressor, whose recognition has cheated her betters.
Are you experiencing vertigo yet? The intellectual and moral gymnastics at play here are truly something to behold.
The Guardian concludes this ass-backwards story by warning that Riseborough, the underdog white woman, has harmed her career by being nominated for a best actress Oscar: “No matter what happens, her reputation is being tarnished, whether her campaign did something or not.”
This development is being treated as blasphemous because Hollywood went woke long ago, yet Riseborough’s nomination doesn’t conform to woke politics. This means the people at the Motion Picture Academy have failed to uphold their loyalty oath. Indeed, this “race storm” is so sacrilegious because it defies the woke trinity of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which Hollywood has mandated in the form of overt discrimination to artificially increase the representation of black Americans, Hispanics, and other “marginalized” groups at the expense of so-called “non-Hispanic whites” and “white-adjacent” Asian and Pacific Islanders.
Back in September 2020, during the supposed racial “reckoning” sweeping the nation after the death of George Floyd, the Academy Awards (better known as the Oscars) announced a change in standards. No longer would films be selected on the basis of quality. Instead, studios would be given a choice of fulfilling one of four criteria. First, the film could include certain woke prerequisites: either a lead or significant supporting actor from an “underrepresented racial or ethnic group”; or at least 30% of all actors in secondary roles would have to be from such a victim group or a woman or LGBTQ+; or the main story line would have to center on such an underrepresented group. Second, the film could be staffed by members of those underrepresented groups. Third, the film company could provide paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities for such victimized groups. Finally, those participating in the marketing could be from one of those victimized groups.
The changes were superfluous and the announcement was performative, as Hollywood had already embraced woke politics as the sine qua non for art, dedicating itself to the endless quest of trying to redefine the lower limits of bad taste.
In 2015, following racial unrest after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Hollywood’s woke contingent began complaining that the industry had marginalized black creators. Thus the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was born—the same hashtag that the recent Andrea Riseborough Oscar nomination tragedy has “revived.” Never mind that literally the year before, in 2014, 12 Years a Slave had won Best Picture, Chiwetel Ejiofor had been nominated for Best Actor, Barkhad Abdi had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and Lupita Nyongo had won Best Supporting Actress. Not good enough.
The Academy’s campaign to formalize its heretofore-voluntary politics was merely the next logical step in the industry’s movement to fulfill leftist messaging requirements. Hollywood has long been a Blue bastion. The American artistic community has traditionally leaned Left because of the counterculturalism that characterizes art itself, and countercultural attitudes are radically amplified in the political echo chambers of L.A. and NYC.
Over the past couple of decades especially, liberalism in entertainment set in, and Hollywood sealed itself off from ideologically diverse voices and creators. Writers and producers generally prefer to work with whom they’re familiar or comfortable with, making it difficult for outsiders to get in. The result, as Fred Silverman, former head of NBC, ABC, and CBS put it, is that “Right now, there’s only one perspective. And it’s a very progressive perspective.”
In the last Euphoric Recall post, we talked about how leftists are trying to renormalize society in accordance with the woke agenda. Well, Hollywood is one of their key conduits. This matters a good deal because culture is upstream of politics. Generally speaking, Americans are more culturally engaged than they are politically. Political beliefs tend to be derived from the elemental feelings people have about broad themes like compassion and justice, right and wrong. And those feelings are shaped and influenced by the cultural sea in which we all swim.
According to Variety, Netflix has 195 million global subscribers; Disney+ has over 70 million; Hulu has around 32 million; HBO Max has more than 30 million; Apple TV has over 42 million; and Amazon Prime has in excess of 140 million. Per Nielsen, Americans over the age of eighteen spend at least four hours per day watching TV.
And that cultural sea is dominated by the Left.
There’s a reason that 99.17% of all political donations from Netflix employees went to Democrats in 2022; that Netflix has categories like “Black Lives Matter Collection” alongside “Drama,” and announced just before launching the “Black Lives Matter” genre, “To be silent is to be complicit”; that Netflix announced it would not invest in making movies or TV shows in Georgia if the state’s pro-life law stood.1 There’s a reason Disney also said it would be “difficult to film in Georgia” if the law went into effect.2 There’s a reason that during the mostly peaceful BLM protests that Amazon Prime started recommending left-leaning movies and TV shows. There’s a reason Hulu just created a series about the emetic 1619 Project.
Hollywood is undeniably leftist and seeks to get audiences to think along leftist lines.
Entertainment that doesn’t comport with prevailing progressive orthodoxy is becoming increasingly rare. Studios now regularly prescreen their shows for activist groups like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which says that its media team “works closely with TV networks, film studios, production companies, showrunners, scriptwriters, casting directors, ad agencies, and public relations firms” to ensure “fair and accurate representation” of the LGBTQ+ community.
Think of all the movies and TV shows that would never be green-lit today. Steve Carell was asked if he thought bringing The Office back was a good idea. He said no, it wouldn’t work because “the climate is different,” which is a nice way of saying “No, because the humorless puritans on the Left would never allow it.” Indeed, The Office has retconned its own content, removing a character that wore blackface.3 Executive producer Greg Daniels solemnly announced, “Today we cut a shot of an actor wearing blackface that was used to criticize a specific racist European practice. Blackface is unacceptable, and making the point so graphically is hurtful and wrong. I am sorry for the pain that caused.”
Meanwhile, old movies have been taken down to provide “context,” like when HBO Max removed Gone with the Wind from its library, explaining that the film was “a product of its time” that contained “ethnic and racial prejudices” that were “wrong then and are wrong today.”4 Disney+ has also updated movies like Peter Pan, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia, The Jungle Book, and Swiss Family Robinson with a pathetic disclaimer: “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.”
Increasingly, content deemed at odds with the woke agenda is targeted for cancellation. Recall that during the mostly peaceful BLM protests the reality series Cops was canceled from Paramount Network after being on the air for more than three decades (though I believe it’s now on Fox’s streaming service). Anything that might show police officers in a positive light was deemed unacceptable. The leftist activist group Color of Change applauded the decision and called for A&E to cancel Live PD next. It was.
But it’s not just a matter of content. Artists also regularly fall prey to the woke mob.
Scarlett Johansson was forced out of production on a movie called Rub and Tug about a transgender man. Why? Because the radical Left declared that only a transgender man could play a transgender man. Think about how absurd that is. She’s an actress; she gets paid to act like someone else. In this role, she would be a biological human female acting like a biological human female who believes she’s a male. I fail to see the issue here. But rather than replace Johansson, the Church of Woke ruled that the film should just be cancelled altogether. Johansson made sure to perform her penance: “I am thankful that this casting debate . . . has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.”
Yet, when Ellen Page announced she was a transgender man, the series in which she stars, Umbrella Academy, said it would be fine for “Elliot Page,” a transgender man, to continue to play a non-transgender woman. Wokeism is a disease.
It is ironic that whereas Hollywood used to broadcast to the biggest possible audience, as capitalism and common sense would seem to dictate, it now panders to the intolerant Left. That’s because Hollywood itself has been renormalized.
Remember, all it takes to renormalize an institution is for an intransigent minority to call the shots and take advantage of a complacent, compliant majority. In this case, Hollywood has become radically reoriented in large part by catering to critics, who are practically monolithic in their leftist priorities5; by “superserving” the most ideologically engaged and inflexible audience at the expense of ordinary Americans, who have a limited number of entertainment options to choose from even if they wanted to take their business elsewhere; and by enforcing equity quotas that call for overt discrimination in favor of “marginalized” groups.
The Andrea Riseborough brouhaha occurred precisely because the aforementioned third tenet was not honored, and the woke cannot abide by that. Nominating a white woman for a best actress Oscar is simply unacceptable to these emotional hemophiliacs when a black woman could have been nominated instead. Never mind that Riseborough was nominated not because of the color of her skin, but because of her excellent acting.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that organizes the Oscars, announced that it’s meeting to “review” its campaign regulations “to ensure that no guidelines were violated.” Don’t be surprised when they come up with a reason to rescind Riseborough’s nomination and give it to a more deserving “person of color.” I won’t.
Ironically, the scene was literally about how it’s inappropriate to wear blackface.
Hattie McDaniel, who was accused of embodying that “prejudice” in playing Mammy, became the first black actress to win an Oscar for her role.