News broke earlier this week Will Smith will not attend the Academy Awards this year. Most likely, it is in protest of the Academy’s lack of non-white acting nominees, which Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith also brought attention to. It’s a particularly sore subject for Mr. Smith because his performance in the sports drama Concussion was a strong Best Actor contender…but received no love from the Academy.
It’s unclear why the Oscars are so white this year. Perhaps it’s a racial blind spot brought on by the fact the Oscar voters are mostly older, Caucasian males. But perhaps something more grotesque is at play: racism. For the second year in a row, the Academy fell short in the diversity department, which certainly encourages the argument its voters feel white performances are more superior than minority ones. Annnd with the Smiths boycotting this year’s ceremony, it’s possible they’re on this train, too.
Which is ironic, given a recent interview Sir Smith gave to The Hollywood Reporter. During the publication’s annual actors roundtable, he made a rather shocking declaration: Racism is rare in Hollywood.
“Everybody is prejudiced,” he said. “Everybody has their life experiences that make them prefer one thing over another–it makes them prefer blond hair over a brunette; if you see somebody with dark skin walking down the street, you have a different reaction than you have [with] someone who is 5-foot-1 and white.”
He continued, “And I have to say, I live with constant prejudice, but racism is actually rare–someone who thinks their race is superior.”
Given the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, this quote now seems inaccurate. The Academy shut out minority talent this year and created an impenetrable clique of white vanity not even a performance like Smith’s Concussion can break through. Could it be Smith was wearing rose-colored glasses about Hollywood’s racism up until this year?
Or is he just upset he didn’t receive a nomination? It is probable this is nothing but a pride issue. That’s what Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) thinks. She posted a video criticizing the Smiths anti-Oscars stance and said, “I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you talk about boycotting just because you didn’t get a nomination, just because you didn’t win.”
But given his wife’s feverish criticism of the Oscars’ racial disparity–not to mention his recent Good Morning America interview where he discusses “racial disharmony” in Hollywood–we’re not so sure.
So, what exactly is keeping the Smiths at home? Pride or prejudice? Sound off in the comments below.