– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Race has always been a sensitive subject, but it seems like it’s more sensitive now than in recent history. 

It’s 2016, and despite the great strides we’ve made there is still rampant institutional racism across America. People of color are tired of not being shown the same level of respect and recognition of their white counterparts, and many white people are getting increasingly frustrated each time they get called out as racist.

Let me back up a bit. Those are some pretty strong and broad accusations there. I’ll be a bit more measured in my words. Let’s start by looking at some facts.

This year, Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of “The Revenant,” was the only non-white person to be nominated for anything this year at the Oscars. I’ll repeat that in a different way. It’s 2016, and there is only one non-white person to be nominated for anything. To top it off, 2016 is also the second year in a row where all acting nominees were white.

Before you roll your eyes about another liberal sheep making a big deal where there is none, let’s look at it a bit differently.

Let’s just look at the biggest, most talked about Oscar snubs, with disregard to the color of the folks involved.

Michael B. Jordan was one of many snubs at this year's Oscars.

Michael B. Jordan was one of many snubs at this year’s Oscars.

  • “Straight Outta Compton” — Best Picture
  • F. Gary Gray — Best Director (“Straight Outta Compton”)
  • Ryan Coogler — Best Director (“Creed”) 
  • Ridley Scott — Best Director (“The Martian”)
  • Quentin Tarantino — Best Director (“Hateful Eight”) 
  • Quentin Tarantino — Best Original Screenplay (“Hateful Eight”)
  • Aaron Sorkin — Best Adapted Screenplay (“Steve Jobs”) 
  • Michael B. Jordan — Best Lead Actor (“Creed”)
  • Will Smith — Best Lead Actor (“Concussion”)
  • Oscar Isaac — Best Supporting Actor (“Ex Machina”) 
  • Idris Elba — Best Supporting Actor (“Beasts of No Nation”) 
  • “Peanuts” — Best Animated Feature 

Sure, not every snub was a non-white, but there are still a good number of them. The fact that there are so many non-white snubs seems like a slap in the face to many. It seems to fly in the face of good taste, so much so that director Spike Lee is boycotting the Oscars.

But let’s go ahead an play devil’s advocate here. Let’s assume that none of the talent listed above is deserving of an Oscar. Crazier things have happened. Maybe it was just a coincidence, and all the talent that was deserving of an Oscar just happened to be all white. Who am I to say the Academy is wrong in all this? It’s not like they’re comprised of a bunch of mustache-twirling racists. They just went for the people they thought deserved the award most, race be damned. In fact, many of the comments are just that: “It’s not racist if all the movies that deserve Oscars are from white people.”

Okay, then. If that’s indeed the case, then I believe the problem is much bigger. Why is the state of Hollywood such that only white people are talented enough to get Oscars? But if we assume that the most deserving talent are on the Oscar nominees list, then that means every other race has virtually no representation in Hollywood, period. Why is that?

Why is it that most of the top-tier talent in Hollywood tend to be white males? Is it really because white males are better at making movies? No, of course not. I don’t think anyone would be stupid enough to say that, right?

Sure, it’s a race problem, but above everything, I believe it to be a class problem. Minorities are more likely to grow up in a lower class, and therefore less likely to indulge in creative urges (i.e., film, acting, etc.). Their talent is less likely to be nurtured, and boom, we end up with fewer minorities in Hollywood. The ones that do make it also likely have a harder time. Hollywood moguls are usually white, and let’s face it, people tend to gravitate towards others of similar background. This makes it harder for minorities to make it big. It’s harder for their movies to get funded, harder for them to make movies, and therefore, harder for them to get on the radar of awards like the Oscars.

It’s a problem that has its roots way at the bottom of the entire Hollywood infrastructure.

So is it wrong that there were so many non-white snubs? In my opinion, it’s not a matter of color, it’s a matter that all those talents weren’t recognized, and many of them just happened to be people of color. But even if we accept the idea that the nominees are the most qualified, the fact that they’re all white is indicative of a much bigger problem, one that Hollywood will have to address sooner or later.

What do you think? Do you think those who were nominated were the most deserving, ordo you think we’re making too big a deal out of nothing? Let us know your thoughts down below!

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.