- - Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its 2015 Oscar nominations. Popular movies, including “The Imitation Game,” “Boyhood” and “The Theory of Everything,” received some positive recognition. Other films, including “The LEGO Movie” and my personal favorite, “Mr. Turner,” received lesser nominations or were snubbed in certain categories.

Yet, according to America’s newest film critic, the Rev. Al Sharpton, we should be displeased by the fact that all of this year’s nominees for best actor, actress and director are white. As he recently put it, with the Shakespearean wit we’ve come to know, “The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets.”

Wow. Should I give Mr. Sharpton’s dramatic performance a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down?

To be sure, it’s somewhat unusual that all the major nominees are of the same skin color. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tatiana Siegel wrote, “One has to go back to 1998 for an all-white acting group.”

Fair enough, but that’s not the point.

It’s not a big secret that academy members base their nominations on ability, and not skin color. If they happen to feel the best acting and directing performances this year were made by Hollywood stars who happen to be white, then so be it.

There are plenty of black, Asian and Hispanic actors, actresses and directors in Tinsel Town. I can say with confidence that they’ll surely receive Oscar nominations in future years. Just not this year.

So, why is Mr. Sharpton all riled up?

The good reverend’s decision to call an “emergency meeting … in Hollywood with the task force to discuss possible action around the Academy Awards” speaks volumes about his true intentions. He’s attempting to publicly disrupt this entertainment group’s proceedings because he doesn’t agree with their private choices.

That’s absolutely ridiculous, even for this legendary troublemaker.

Mr. Sharpton’s history has been, shall we say, a little on the sordid side. We all know about his past participation in volatile situations, including Crown Heights, Bensonhurst and the Tawana Brawley controversy. He’s made some nasty comments about Jews and Mormons, among others. He acknowledged in 1988 that he had helped the U.S. government crack down on drug-dealing in poor neighborhoods (although he still denies pervasive reports that he was an FBI informant).

Still, the self-anointed civil rights activist has tried to clean up his image.

Mr. Sharpton made peace with some of his old political rivals, including the late New York City Mayor Ed Koch. He’s run for politics a few times, including the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He hosts a radio talk show, as well as a political show on MSNBC. He has become President Obama’s “go-to black leader,” according to “60 Minutes” — and was reportedly described by the president as “[t]he voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden.”

Alas, his true colors show up every so often — especially when he’s talking about color.

Mr. Sharpton was disappointed that “Selma,” a well-received movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches for black voting rights, didn’t receive enough attention. Some observers believed David Oyelowo would be nominated as best actor for his portrayal of Dr. King, and Ava DuVernay would become the first black woman to be nominated as best director.

It didn’t happen. “Selma” ultimately received two Oscar nominations, including for best picture. That’s not too shabby, all things considered. (Meanwhile, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu became the first Mexican to be nominated as best director for his fine film, “Birdman.”)

In other words, there are examples of films about minority groups and made by minorities in this year’s Oscar mix.

Hence, Mr. Sharpton has to understand that awards ceremonies aren’t about affirmative-action policies and forcing committees to change their views to promote diversity, for the sake of diversity. That’s not the way they work. His annoying intervention isn’t going to change things, even in the left-wing, politically correct utopia of Hollywood.

Mr. Sharpton should just get over it. The world isn’t perfect, and you don’t always receive the ideal scenario in life.

Plus, black actors, actresses and directors are making real headway in Hollywood. They clearly don’t need his help, and he could end up making this situation much worse.

That’s why Reverend Al gets a thumbs-down for this performance. Better luck next year.

Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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