Bekah Paxton, Staff Writer


Everyone loves a bit of mindless entertainment. We are constantly inundated with news of awards’ season nominations, wins and, of course, infamous snubs. For many, the news of far-away movie stars goes in one ear and out the other, and perhaps just serves as a fleeting point of conversation or something to pass the time. For some, however, awards season is a very serious matter.

Rev. Al Sharpton apparently falls into the latter category. After Oscar nominations were released Thursday, Sharpton publicly gave his incendiary reaction. Sharpton told the New York Daily News Friday that the lack of diversity spread across the nomination categories was “appallingly insulting.” He is even going so far as to threaten to incite protests against the Academy because of this.

Lack of nominations for "Selma" lead political figures like Al Sharpton to accuse the Academy of racism. PHOTO VIA GOOGLE IMAGES

Lack of nominations for “Selma” lead political figures like Al Sharpton to accuse the Academy of racism. PHOTO VIA GOOGLE IMAGES

The Oscars, in particular, deals only with films from the previous year, so the 87th Academy Awards will only feature movies released in 2014. Trends show that films released in the later part of the year tend to spark more interest publicly and then receive more nominations.

Thus, the picks for this year that had the largest effect on viewers and Academy members may have been from a highly specific group of titles. The snubbing Sharpton alludes to may potentially be the same reason Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar, simply because his films have not piqued enough interest at the right time to snag a nomination or a win.

There are undoubtedly racism issues in America. However, why is a figure like Sharpton focused on the Oscars, when there are real-time issues that should be addressed first?

Violence across the nation, European terror attacks and threatening hacks from North Korea should be the nation’s top priority right now. Instead, civil rights activists and figures who are constantly engaged in politics, like Sharpton, are concerned with the Academy Awards. It is a sad revelation about our culture when movie stars come before national security.

If we as a nation are going to pick apart the Academy for their alleged “political racism” before focusing on much deeper, more dangerous issues at hand, we have bigger internal problems than the race of the nominated actors and actresses.

I’m not one to agree with movie critics myself, because I think we should all come to terms with our personal standards of a good film. However, if the inner circle deciding on the nominations feels that certain actors, producers or films were better than others, can’t we just agree to disagree?

The ultimate issue I have with Sharpton’s comments is the need for him to attribute every singular event as being a race issue. This applies to the general public as well. Could it be, perhaps, that Academy members honestly thought that David Oyelowo (who played Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma”) did not match the performances of actors in other blockbusters this past year? According to Sharpton, this is no excuse.

Due to a history of not dealing with the issue, racism is an open sore in American history. However, if we as a nation continue to make everything about race when some things have nothing to do with it, we are only deepening the wounds of our past.