Lee Daniels Has Some Strong Words for the #OscarsSoWhite Protesters
Over the past few years, the American film industry has been taken to task for — let’s call it the “straight white guy”-ness of it all. Women, queer talents, and nonwhite artists have all come out of the woodwork to demand a piece of the pie currently being gobbled up by George Lucas and people who’d fit his general physical profile. One of the more organized expressions of this sea change has been the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, an effort to shame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the disproportionate whiteness of their nominee slate. It’d be hard to argue that it’s been anything other than a force for equitable good, but The Paperboy director Lee Daniels doesn’t quite see it that way.
Much in the same way that a person in an air-conditioned house may lose sight of the temperature outside, the black Academy Award nominee doesn’t see any problem with the number of black men and women nominated for Academy Awards. In a new feature from the New York Times, the filmmaker spoke with rare candor:
Go out and do the work. Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards? If I had thought that way --- that the world was against me --- I wouldn’t be here now. These whiny people that think we’re owed something are incomprehensible and reprehensible to me. I don’t expect acknowledgment or acceptance from white America. I’m going to be me.
As we used to say back in the schoolyard, “them’s fightin’ words.” Being a white person, it’s probably not my place to say whether Daniels’ read of the situation is off-base or not, but no matter who you are, the comparison of protest to whining is pretty uncharitable. Whether Daniels will be made to answer for these words by black community leaders has yet to be seen, but it can’t be too far off.