The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has leapt into the quest for “racial justice” with both feet. The people behind the Oscars now find themselves chest-deep in an ethno-aesthetic quagmire.
Under new rules that will govern the 2024 Academy Awards, no film will be eligible for Best Picture unless its producers obey an elaborate quota scheme requiring minority participation in myriad disciplines in front of the camera, behind it, or both.
These rules resemble a mind-numbing blend of Critical Race Theory and a verbose algebra word problem. They state:
“Having at least one Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native, Middle Eastern/North African, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander or unspecified other underrepresented race or ethnicity as a ‘lead or significant supporting actor’ is a potential requirement under the new guidelines, with those ethnicities also mentioned for prominent production and marketing jobs,” Deadline’s Pete Hammond explained.
"Additionally, employing women, LGBTQ+, members of a racial or ethnic group, and people with cognitive or physical disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing might be required for at least 30 percent of actors in secondary and more minor roles; having a storyline centered on an underrepresented group; hiring creative leadership and department heads; maintaining at least 30 percent crew composition; paid internships; and representation in marketing and distribution also are potential areas in order to be a Best Picture contender,” Hammond continued.
Hammond then added a dash of division to AMPAS’ calculator-busting equation: “Producers don’t have to meet all of the requirements of the new doctrine, just half.”
OK, class: Solve for X and show your work.
Given that the film “1917” concerns British and German soldiers battling in World War I, it’s hard to imagine how this necessarily, overwhelmingly White film (which deserved this year’s Best Picture award) could have navigated this maze of racial trenches.
While the necessarily overwhelmingly Asian “Parasite” filled a decade’s worth of boxes for that ethnic group, the South Korean picture did little to nothing for Black and Brown people in Hollywood, largely since Seoul is hardly a Black or Hispanic hotbed.
Most important, whatever contribution that “Parasite” made to “equity and inclusion” (peace be upon them), this did not prevent it from being the least-deserving Best Picture since 1996’s “The English Patient.” Correctly and memorably lampooned on “Seinfeld,” the late director Anthony Minghella’s celluloid catastrophe was a vastly overrated, soporific, euthanasia-boosting, ahistorical lie.
Despite bearing plot holes larger than the Demilitarized Zone, AMPAS recognized the senselessly sadistic, blood-soaked “Parasite” as the very best among 786 motion pictures released last year.
It’s impossible to think of this execrable travesty as anything but über-liberal Hollywood deciding, “We gave the Blacks ‘Moonlight’ in 2017. Let’s give the Asians ‘Parasite’ in 2019.”
The fact that this odious Korean-language monstrosity was the first Best Picture not in English surely gave the Laurel Canyon crowd a warm, runny feeling requiring pallets of Kleenex.
Assuming that future producers hope to win Best Picture (name one who doesn’t) what other films could these boneheaded new rules make tougher to greenlight?
Imagine a movie called “Beer Hall Putsch,” about Adolf Hitler’s failed coup attempt in November 1923. This pivotal historical event unfolded in Munich. Since few Blacks hung out in Bavaria back then, what should an AMPAS-worthy producer do — cast a Black actor as Rudolf Hess? Most would agree: A Black Hitler would take things a bit far.
Picture a motion picture called “The Chinese Have Stood Up,” about Mao Zedong’s defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in the revolution of 1949. This would be great news for Chinese actors. But, again, not that many Black folks frequented Nanking, Peking or Shanghai in the late 1940s.
Casting Denzel Washington as John Leighton Stuart, U.S. ambassador to the pre-Communist Republic of China, would be an intriguing choice. The talented Washington surely would perform with his characteristic power and panache. Of course, his every scene would be a lie worthy of Rachel Dolezal or Jessica Krug. Stuart was as White as Washington is Black.
There is no need for AMPAS to impale Oscar upon the sword of “racial justice.” The best way to get Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities more and better work in Hollywood is for AMPAS to encourage the studios to produce more movies that tell the stories of Black and Hispanic achievement.
Imagine how many Black people could be employed in a film called “First Lady of Song,” a biopic about jazz goddess Ella Fitzgerald. Another idea: The producers of “Rocketman” should create “Santana!” about a boy from Tijuana named Carlos, who became one of Earth’s most beloved and successful electric guitarists, and a humanitarian as well.
Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities have struggled, failed, prospered, failed, and then risen to even greater heights. They have soared in business, education, entertainment, family life, literature, medicine, politics, romance, science, sports and beyond. Tell their stories, and people who look like them will find plenty to do in Hollywood.
This is the natural way to accomplish what Team Oscar is trying to do in the most ham-fisted and artless manner imaginable. Until AMPAS projects something sensible, as above, some brave soul in Tinseltown should grab a megaphone and yell, “Cut!”