Actor Samuel L. Jackson is using his blockbuster status to create compelling conversation about Hollywood’s limited views about race on the big screen.
Speaking directly to UK’s The Times, the coolest man in the movies expressed his concerns about racism within Hollywood, and politics at the Oscars.
The film icon believes that the popularity of Steve McQueen’s Oscar-nominated epic, 12 Years a Slave, serves as a healthy distraction to audiences who fail to realize that bigotry is still dynamic in modern America.
“America is much more willing to acknowledge what happened in the past,” Jackson said. Over the course of his 40-year-career, the Washington, D.C.-born, Tennessee-raised thespian has raked in a hefty $9 billion at the box office, and yet confirms that he still faces racial discrimination in the film industry “on a daily basis.”
Major studios are notorious for overlooking projects that have a current-world motif, or shed light on an issue facing our “post-racial” America. For instance, if you read the reviews about Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station versus the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s blatant snubbing of the project, you would be miffed as to why the true story of a modern-day racist act wouldn’t warrant the same applause as one that happened in the early-to-mid-1800’s.
The actor was quick to point out that same fact, saying that Fruitvale Station “tackled the issue of race in a far more forthright and braver way than 12 Years A Slave.”
“It (Fruitvale Station) is a film about African-Americans – a dark period of history that they don’t like to explore in that particular way,” he said.
He’s right, too. In an age where we celebrate the accomplishments of America’s first Black president; where we tout the accomplishments of our Black elite, Hollywood still is afraid to put their dollars behind an explosive piece of art.
The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier star has every right to worry about the limitations Hollywood places on confronting discrimination, which still plagues the country to this day.
“(Fruitvale Station) explains things like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the problems with (the popular police practice) stop and search, and is much more poignant.”
Will we ever see a modern day telling of racism and discrimination in America on the big screen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.