The Oscars Snubbed Creed— and Failed to Break a 50-Year Trend

Hollywood has a 'love affair' with black history at the expense of 'black present'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2016 1:28 PM CST
Was "Creed" snubbed by the academy because it's about struggle but not "the struggle?"   (Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

(Newser) – On a day when everyone and their mother will be cataloging the biggest Oscar snubs of the year, Aisha Harris at Slate argues there's one that truly matters. "What’s really troubling is that the Academy missed out on a chance to do something it hasn’t done in more than 50 years and has really only done once: honor a film with a black protagonist that is not about the Black Struggle." She's writing about Creed, which was almost entirely ignored by the Academy when the nominations were announced Thursday. "It’s frustrating because the movie is entertaining, exciting, terrifically directed and acted—and if an overindulgent, hollow frontier film [The Revenant] can get nominated, Creed most certainly deserves to be there, too." The only nomination secured by Creed, which has a black star and black writer/director, was for its white co-star.

In the five decades since Lilies of the Field—starring Sidney Poitier as a drifter who helps some German nuns—was nominated for best picture, Harris has a hard time thinking of any other films with a black protagonist that were so honored—unless they were about "racial oppression." "Most such films are about black people in relation to white people, while their nominations hinge on how they make white people feel—guilty, sad, better about their own perceived views on race." Harris says this is indicative of the Academy's "love affair" with black history at the expense of "black present." "I’ve long tired of Hollywood’s vision of the struggle as the only marketable narrative for black folks. … The Academy doesn’t know it yet, but Creed is clear proof: A story can be emotionally rich, powerful, and undeniably black—even if it doesn’t center on injustice." Read the full piece here. (Read more Creed stories.)

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