Pop Culture

Ranking Celebrity Responses to #OscarsSoWhite

Oh man, everything is wonderful and terrible. The Internet hate fuel cycle has been in overdrive this week thanks to #OscarsSoWhite making the rounds, allowing us to add names to our Celebrity Shitlist.

The Good

For brevity, I omitted some of the many good responses from actors and performers who usually have great things to say in support of other artists of color such as Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis and Ice Cube. I also omitted Jada Pinkett Smith as her voice was among the first, and we already covered George Clooney’s response. Here they are in order from kind-of-okay to the epitome of the praise hands emoji.

Reese Witherspoon

Choice Quote: “So disappointed that some of 2015’s best films, filmmakers and performances were not recognized. Nothing can diminish the quality of their work, but these filmmakers deserve recognition. As an Academy member, I would love to see a more diverse voting membership.”

Reese Witherspoon shows us how a true A-list star prepares a positive, noncommittal statement.

Matt Damon

Choice Quote: “It was shameful and embarrassing that there were two years in a row without a single actor of color nominated […] That’s insane.”

Sounds like someone learned from his mansplaining diversity comments during Project Greenlight, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to put this into practice.

Lena Dunham

Choice Quote: It’s an Instagram post, I mean, just read it.

I am so angry that this controversy has put me on the same side as Lena Dunham. Her above Instagram post acknowledges criticism she’s faced and complicity in the system and simultaneously stays in her own lane. It’s also vague enough that you can’t take too much issue with it.

Danny DeVito

Choice Quote: “We are living in a country that discriminates and has certain racial tendencies which — racist tendencies — so sometimes, it’s manifested in things like this and it’s illuminated, but just generally speaking, we’re a racist —we’re a bunch of racists. It’s unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country.”

Danny DeVito starts off using the same coded, sanitized language that white/straight allies use when talking about many forms of diversity, but then he quickly realizes what he’s saying and just straight-up calls the whole system racist. Bonus points for using “we,” as often white allies try to distance themselves from these conversations.

George Takei

Choice Quote: “That’s the strength of America — people from all different backgrounds, different cultures, different histories, different faiths, all coming together and contributing to making this nation the vibrant, dynamic nation that it is. And yet the movies that are made, are made by people with a singular perspective. They know white America. They know white American artists. They know white American writers. That’s what we’re nominating people from.”

Takei gives a great interview about growing up during Japanese internment and talks about diversity in Hollywood, including queer identities. This is just a short piece about how Hollywood chooses projects to produce, that a recurring theme among critics.

Steve McQueen

Choice Quote: “One could talk about percentages of certain people who are Academy members and the demographics and so forth, but the real issue is movies being made. Decisions being made by heads of studios, TV companies and cable companies about what is and is not being made. That is the start. That is the root of the problem.”

I really miss Steve McQueen in the Oscars this year. He both speaks to the lack of diversity and calls for better representation across the board.

Jeffrey Wright

Choice Quote: All of it. Seriously, all of it.

Jeffrey Wright’s Twitter tirade grapples with the Oscars, Hollywood privilege and nepotism, how the Oscars play into larger conversations about race, and even addresses some critics of #OscarsSoWhite head on. All this from one of the most underrated and underutilized players in Hollywood.

The Bad

Not all of these are “bad,” per se, but they’re not good. It’s almost better if they hadn’t spoken, but they have, and now these statements are out in the world for us to scrutinize.

Mark Ruffalo

Choice Quotes: Mark Ruffalo says he is “really sympathetic” to those who have criticized the Academy Awards and want to boycott it. However, he also says he’s struggling personally on the decision of boycotting the Oscars, but says that ultimately he will probably attend because he is also representing another kind of victim through his movie Spotlight.

This is all easy to disregard if you’re not a PoC. His language doesn’t immediately make you want to hulk smash a table across his face, but the whole “well, I’m speaking for a different community” feels like the type of rhetoric that’s used by people who sideline some oppression by speaking to others, i.e., let’s talk about women, and not about people of color (because god forbid intersectionality exists). He does push those boycotting to join the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which redeems him slightly.

Jimmy Kimmel

Choice Quote: This whole fucking sketch.

DO YOU GET IT? Lol “urban jokes”! Is it supposed to be a take down how out of touch Hollywood is? Hint: it’s neither effective nor funny. Maybe I just have my humorless feminist glasses on too tightly.

The Ugly

These are the garbage responses and false equivalencies and just stupid things people have said about the Oscars controversy. Feel your blood pressure rise as you go further down this list. Here’s a gif to explain how you will feel upon reading. (Please note the super white male gif from an Oscar bait movie from recent history.)

notebook smash
Just stop it!

Kristen Stewart

Choice Quote: “Instead of sitting around and complaining about that, do something. […] Go write something, go do something.”

Apparently, these comments were originally linked to diversity in Hollywood, but now it’s been altered to just gender equality. Either way, Stewart shows us the disconnect between understanding what’s being made versus what’s being recognized and distributed.

Bill Maher

Choice Quote: He blames it on the Asians for not wanting to see Black leads.

Bill Maher is trash.

Michael Caine

Choice Quote: “In the end you can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black; I’ll vote for him.’”

It took Michael Caine 1000 years to get his Oscar, therefore black people should be patient and they’ll get theirs when white people feel like sharing. You know, just like history has proven.

Julie Delpy

Choice Quote: “It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African-American because people don’t bash them afterward.”

Delpy exemplifies the worst type of white feminist who privileges gender over race and doesn’t acknowledge that there might be some people who experience both oppressions and other unnamed oppressions. I hope her 2 Days in New York co-star and Oscar host Chris Rock calls her out. She did apologize for her comments but the internet never forgets.

Charlotte Rampling

Choice Quote: “It is racist to whites. […] One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”

Charlotte Rampling is an underrated actress with a long career. However her personal issues with Hollywood has nothing to do with the overarching problem of diverse representation across the board. Also white racism isn’t real. Facepalms all around. In fairness, like Julie Delpy, she did release a statement trying to do some damage control, but it’s absolutely too late.

Oscars Season 2016 is taking everyone down and I, for one, want more statements and more reveals into which of your favorites are secretly just like your racist aunt. As we wait for the inevitable shitstorm to whip into a fury closer to the ceremony, you can read about why Hollywood and the Oscars are so white over at Flavorwire or Film School Rejects.

If you needed a clear reminder of why Hollywood is so white and terrible (with fewer words), just remember, Joseph Fiennes is playing Michael Jackson.

By Karishma

Karishma is a twenty-something living in New York City and is trying her hardest to live out every cliche about Millennials. This involves eating her feelings, drowning in debt and mocking infomercials. She likes sociology so much that she has two degrees in it, and is still warding off her parents' questions about a real career.

Leave a Reply