On February 24, the 91st Academy Awards took place in typical Academy Awards fashion, except there were many memorable moments and milestones for people of color. Notably, Spike Lee won his first non-honorary Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. More notably, he tried to walk out of the Dolby Theater when the film Green Book won Best Picture. His film BlacKkKlansman also received a nomination for best picture.
While some hail Green Book as a prominent example of racial tolerance and acceptance, others criticize it as a mawkish and outdated stereotype that only perpetuates issues of race at hand further.
Back in 1990, Lee had to see another film of a similar vein win called Driving Miss Daisy, while he had a nod for another film he made called Do The Right Thing. Lee says, “I’m snakebit. I mean every time somebody’s driving somebody, I lose. But they changed the seating arrangement!”
Because of controversies such as #OscarsSoWhite and general lack of opportunity for people of color in the film industry, there has been a noticeable shift to promote inclusiveness. However, many people believe this only takes place under the guise of progression and doesn’t actually do anything to promote actual change. A lot of people think that films like Driving Miss Daisy and Green Book are examples of that classic award show tokenism. Those movies rely on a white-savior narrative that projects an inaccurate fantasy of racial equality.
The people who make those films and the Academy who gives awards to them pat themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum and for seeing things the way they want to.
This event demonstrates that the Oscars are just as white as they have always been. If there is change wanted, it must be demanded. And although it seems like history is just repeating itself with no silver lining in sight, we have to keep holding on to the tiny bits of progress we have. Lee concluded his press room conference by saying, “Whether we won Best Picture or not, this film [BlacKkKlansman] will stand the test of time being on the right side of history.”