It was only to be expected that the Rev. Al Sharpton would look to seize on a new issue to maintain his public profile when interest in his verbal and “civil disobedience” attacks on the NYPD over the death of Eric Garner inevitably lost their buzz. Sure enough, he has now taken to challenging the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the failure of any African American actors or directors to be nominated for an Oscar.
Particularly galling to Rev. Sharpton was that while the film “Selma,” which revolves around the civil rights activism of Dr. Martin Luther King, was nominated for best picture, the movie’s director and its actors failed to garner a single nomination.
But even the gullible can no doubt appreciate the cynicism inherent in the suggestion that among the creative types of Hollywood, rewarding merit is somehow secondary to the dynamic of race.
Does the fact that no blacks were nominated persuasively demonstrate discrimination? Who is to say which actor gave the most compelling performance? Or which director drew the most out of the actors they worked with? Who best pulled a movie together? How does race have anything to do with these questions? Moreover, what was the makeup of the pool from which the selections were made? How many black performers or directors were there relative to the number of white performers and directors from which to choose?
What the reverend either doesn’t know or hasn’t cared to publicly acknowledge is that there are 17 categories of Academy Awards and only members of each particular category can vote for the nominees in their category. Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
We’ll admit, though, that the republic can sleep better knowing Rev. Sharpton has turned his eyes to Tinseltown. The longer he stays away from more substantial matters and venues, the better it is for the rest of us.