Amid all the yelping about no black actors receiving Academy Award nominations this year, almost nobody has raised the obvious point.
Maybe their performances were not all that impressive.
Now, without even a trigger alert, Daily Mail showbiz columnist Baz Bamigobye has made that argument in a little-noticed article that urges everyone to “stop whingeing about the Oscars being too white” because most black actors “aren’t good enough this year.”
Bamigboye is black. So quota mongers can’t resort to their usual slur that anybody opposed to a racial spoils system is just a bigoted malcontent.
He is just challenging the prevalent notion –accepted unquestioningly by the media, the Democratic Party and many Republicans — that racial disparities are necessarily problematic. Except, of course, at the NBA.
Bamigboye’s argument is essentially, yeah, it’s too bad no black actors were nominated this year but so what?
“I share some of [the critics’] angst, but I don’t feel heartbroken about this year’s nominations. The simple fact is that the Oscars must celebrate and honour the best. And, I’m afraid, in my view, the movies this year with black actors and black film-makers aren’t of that high quality.“The only exceptions are Idris Elba’s charismatic performance as a warlord in Beast Of No Nation (based on the experiences of a child soldier fighting in a civil war in Africa) and the boxing movie Creed.”
But judging performances is, by definition subjective. And Bamigboye recoils at the idea of racial set asides.
“It should never be the case that there must be a film representing people of colour no matter what. In an ideal world, yes, of course, art should reflect our society. This happened with the brilliant 12 Years A Slave — which won three Oscars,” he continued. “What we certainly don’t want is well-meaning tokenism — the sort of attitude: ‘Oh, look, there are some black dudes in a half-decent movie, let’s nominate them for an Academy Award.’ That’s patronising and utterly offensive.”