Finally, someone has come up with a simple solution to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
No, I’m not talking about the Academy overhauling how they select voters. I’m talking about actress Julie Delpy (a white woman) and her brilliant quote when asked about the ongoing push to have more people of color at the Oscars.
“Two years ago, I said something about the Academy being very white male, which is the reality, and I was slashed to pieces by the media. It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African-American because people don’t bash them afterward,” said Delpy to a reporter from The Wrap.
Whatever planet Delpy lives on, there are apparently no black women, because she doesn’t seem to know that we exist. “It’s the hardest to be a woman. Feminist is something people hate above all. Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that,” said Delpy, doubling down on her ridiculousness.
According to Delpy, all of this equality business could be handled if only women like herself magically morphed into black people. In her world of make-believe, black people have agency, a voice and are never “bashed” for having strong opinions.
If Delpy got her wish and became African American, that would make her a black woman in Hollywood. Despite her bizarre contention that this would somehow make her more powerful, history and reality tell a different story. There have been 1,668 acting nominations for the Oscars since 1929, and a mere 6.7% of those nominations went to non-white actors. As far as black women in particular, in the 88-year history of the Oscars, only seven black actresses have actually won.
Apparently, Delpy is unaware of the fact that one person can have multiple identities, such as being black AND being a woman. Being smart is also an option. Delpy’s aggressively unintelligent commentary is only the latest in a flurry of side-eye worthy statements from white actors. Michael Cain said black people should be “patient” about getting Oscars, and Charlotte Rampling had the audacity to say that demanding diversity is racist to white people.
All of these actors are missing the point. Nobody is suggesting that the Academy should hand out Oscars to black people regardless of talent. The #OscarsSoWhite conversation is about the fact that talented black people in Hollywood have obstacles in their paths that their white counterparts do not have. It’s not just about the awards, it’s about writers rooms, the studio system, financing, marketing, casting and every other part in the layered process known as “making it” in Hollywood.
To be fair, some white actors have spoken out about #OscarsSoWhite and have found themselves on the correct side of history on the issue. After rattling off a list of films and actors of color who should have been nominated for Oscars this year, George Clooney asked a good question: “How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly quality films?”
Mark Ruffalo is considering boycotting the ceremony (which would put him in the company of Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and others). “If you look at Martin Luther King‘s legacy, what he was saying was the people, the good people who don’t act are much worse than the people, the wrongdoers who are purposefully not acting and don’t know the right way,” said Ruffalo about the Oscars’ lack of diversity.
Creating a more diverse Academy is a step in the right direction, but it is also only one part of the system. If those earlier parts of the creative process like writing and casting are not sufficiently diversified, there still won’t be significant change when it comes to doling out prestigious honors. There can not be a substantial amount of black people represented at awards shows if they are not even being considered for acting roles, the director’s chair and other important aspects of the film industry.
While those who want to be part of creating that change put in that work, those who have nothing but uninformed opinions to offer (Delpy, Cain, Rampling, etc) should go slip into something that feels good on their white privilege, find a corner, face it and of course, have a seat.