An anonymous female Academy member gave a racially-charged defense of this year’s Selma “snubs,” claiming the historical film had “no art to it” while also accusing the entire cast and crew of “stirring up s**t” by publicly standing in solidarity with the Black community following the death of Eric Garner.
Ironically enough, as the anonymous Oscar voter tried to defend the Academy’s lack of nominations for the movie Selma, her tirade ended up exposing the kind of racial bias that social media users were accusing the elite organization of in the first place.
While the anonymous member did agree that the overwhelming majority of the Oscar voters are white males, she did not believe race played any role in Selma’s lack of nominations, particularly for Ava DuVernay for Best Director.
“First, let me say that I’m tired of all this talk about ‘snubs,’” the longtime member of the Academy’s 378-member public relations branch told the Hollywood Reporter. “I thought for every one of [the snubs] there was a justifiable reason. What no one wants to say out loud is that Selma is a well-crafted movie, but there’s no art to it.”
She went on to say that she did not believe Academy members would have voted for the film even if it was directed by a “60-year-old white male.”
That comment is likely to generate torrents of reaction across social media and everywhere else. Many viewers of Selma were not only blown away by the film’s emotional punch, but by the beauty and art with which DuVernay shot the film’s heroic characters—an artistry that certainly compared quite favorably to past Best Director winners like Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker and Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby.
While she was entitled to her opinion about the film’s artistic value, her tirade started crossing into even more interesting territory after she claimed people were “carrying on” when they voiced their frustrations with the lack of nominations for Black talent.
“And as far as the accusations about the Academy being racist? Yes, most members are white males, but they are not the cast of Deliverance—they had to get into the Academy to begin with, so they’re not cretinous, snaggletoothed hillbillies,” she continued. “When a movie about black people is good, members vote for it. But if the movie isn’t that good, am I supposed to vote for it just because it has black people in it?”
She ended the rant with a bold assertion that the Selma cast was being disrespectful by wearing “I can’t breathe” shirts to their New York premiere.
“I’ve got to tell you, having the cast show up in T-shirts saying ‘I can’t breathe’—I thought that stuff was offensive,” she added. “Did they want to be known for making the best movie of the year or for stirring up s**t?”
The film’s director, Ava DuVernay, hasn’t commented on the Oscar voter’s reaction and there is a chance she might not ever find the need to.
Regardless of the Academy deciding to leave Selma off many of this year’s ballots, the film has still been a major success financially, come out victorious at other award shows and has even helped spark positive discussions and movements across the nation.
But in suggesting that the cast of the film was “stirring up s**t” by publicly standing in solidarity with Eric Garner after he was put in a fatal chokehold by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo, the anonymous voter may have only contributed to the argument that many movie goers have presented.
What has been consistently named as one of the greatest concerns in Hollywood— greater than the lack of nominations for certain films, greater than the lack of awards for stellar Black talent, greater than the lack of diversity in this year’s nominees—is the painful reminder that mainstream media and the entertainment elite are still offended and irritated by discussions of racism in America.