Ava DuVernay surrounded by her American heroes. Source

Why The Golden Globes Shafted “When They See Us”

Award season is officially lit with the wakeup call of the 2020 Golden Globe nominations, and to say that’s it’s “a white, white world” in Hollywood is an understatement.

The illustrious list of nominees that were selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, that has been hailed as the predictor for what the Oscars will look like, basically reverts us back to the bad old days, before #OscarsSoWhite was unleashed back in 2015 by founder, April Reign, in response to the gross negligence of the 2016 Oscar nominations.

The online furor sparked the growing movement that helped propel the viability of that prolific hashtag. It also gained traction when A-listers who could attest to the industry’s nasty habit of practiced exclusion against non-White talents, actively spoke out and used the viral symbol for extra measure.

Months after the Academy was shaken to its core proved to be a heightened period of adjustments and major revisions, that were set forth by the institution’s dutiful and responsive president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has since been replaced by successor David Rubin.

Under the leadership of Isaacs, who is the first Black woman ever to serve in the role of president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, there was an aggressive approach to diversifying a predominately White club of obstinate members, who have fought long and hard to retain the mantra that shuts out those who never apply.

Isaacs maximized her power to ensure that the voting rules would be updated to reflect the depth of variety, that has been jarringly missing ever since La La Land came into existence. There was the extension of invites to a healthy number of non-White creatives, who were happy to oblige for the sake of adding more color to a starkly white landscape.

Undoubtedly there was a lot of push back from older, White members of the Academy, who weren’t on board with this festive climate of change, that demands the celebration of equality in all its various forms, through the lenses of passionate storytellers from every background.

It appeared that the industry-at-large was ready for the wave of acute awareness, that establishes the rules according to what’s fair.

As opposed to the reliance on the supremacy of Whiteness, that dictates the blueprint for success in a town that’s still obsessed with grooming White ingenues and worshipping the “all-American” leading man.

But this morning’s glitzy affair with accompaniments of headshots featuring the solid mix of White superstars, past and present, was a grave departure from the promised path of “wokeness” that we were led to believe was legit.

The Emmy awards the past September was already the indicator of verified disappointment, as we sadly watched the unsightly snobbery of famed filmmaker and truth-teller Ava DuVernay, who didn’t win any of the main awards for her stellar offering about the systemized brutalization of the #ExoneratedFive — When They See Us.

The harrowing tale of five young men of color, who were subjected to the horrors of a biased judicial system, that forced them into captivity for a crime they didn’t commit, was a masterclass in how the venom of Whiteness has been permitted to infect the vulnerable existence and innocence of Black and Brown youths.

It was awesome to see one of the actors from the outstanding ensemble, Jharrel Jerome, win the Emmy in the category of Lead Actor — Limited Series. But that ended up being the one and only award for the Netflix mini-series, that literally served as the graphic depiction of a real-life event, that exposed the evilness of White officers of the law, who almost got away with it.

In the aftermath of its highly-anticipated release, the critically-acclaimed drama initiated a period of national reflection. This culminated into a much-needed examination of the key players who helped shape the unfortunate outcome of a high-profile case, that was purposed to punish five teens of color, who were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Donald Trump’s disgusting display of overt bigotry in the form of full page ads, that called for the death penalty for the poor boys who were already in a precarious situation, was resurrected to the chagrin of an unapologetic White nationalist who never commented about his act of violence.

It was also gratifying to witness #CancelLindaFairstein trending on social media, as users were adamant about ending the wildly popular, mystery novelist’s career, as payback for her demonic turn as the former prosector for New York, who weaponized her position as the assigned orchestrator to inflate her shitty legacy.

And there was the imminent fate of Columbia Law School lecturer, Elizabeth Lederer, who was forced to step down from her post, weeks after the nation came to a halt from the revelations of her wrongdoing, as the cowardly prosecutor who helped to advance Fairstein’s nefarious agenda.

When They See Us is the cultural event that elevates the dignity and respect of the Black narrative in ways that aren’t possible in the hands of White filmmakers, who are purely committed to the cleansing of the White aesthetic.

This usually involves the inauthenticity of coerced storylines that have to be packaged with the element of the “White Savior” syndrome.

That explains the irrelevant addition of Brad Pitt’s character in the epic slave drama, 12 Years a Slave which was probably mandated because of Pitt’s role as producer through his creative hub, Plan B Entertainment.

Those desirable themes that provide comfortability to White audiences are also inputted in notable Black movies with historical references, like Hidden Figures and the most recent messiness that poisoned the darling of last year’s award circuit, Green Book.

Green Book was the big winner at Oscars 2019, and it was a painful and sorrowful journey for the family of Don Shirley, who was played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali, who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the jazz pianist, who hires a White bodyguard and driver, played by Viggo Mortensen.

The White film critics heaped lots of praise on the movie that falsely illustrates a close bond between the renowned Black artist and the White man, who predictably provides the enlightening moments that the Shirley family called out as callous fabrications.

Black Panther’s Oscar nominations that same year, was overshadowed by the sentiment of White A-listers, who coded their messaging to insinuate how the superhero movie and cultural revolution on a global scale, was experiencing the direct result of how compulsory inclusion can reward entries that don’t deserve recognition.

There was something disconcertingly “Black” about Black Panther, on a level that excluded the participation of the demanding White establishment. And that operatic infusion of Black power without the treacherousness of White power was the buzzkill for White Academy members, who felt that the diluted premise of Green Book was more palatable.

That’s also the reason why the Golden Globes shafted “When They See Us.”

The HFPA is making a thunderous statement about how the must-see gem that single-handedly shifted the national conversation towards a more progressive route, and rightfully targeted a batch of White evildoers, is tragically not admissible because of the erasure of White saviors.

Ava DuVernay gave Black and Brown folks a valuable gift that restored our place in history through her faithful and truthful delivery of the fateful voyage of five boys of color, who mournfully exited their cells as men of color.

It was a spiritual undertaking to internalize the contents of a product that take into account the fragility of Whiteness because of what was at stake when it came to fulfilling and exceeding the expectations of Blackness.

It’s utterly disgusting and woefully shameful that DuVernay and her first-class team of cast members and crew, who dedicated their blood, sweat and tears to an unbelievable real life story, with the ups and downs and historic ending, that even Hollywood can’t dream up, have been criminally left out in the cold, with not a single Golden Globe nomination.

There were several violations stemming from the televised announcement, but the absence of Ava DuVernay, and the best and most vital work of her career, is the “fuck you” from White Hollywood that cements the disingenuousness of the “diversity clause” and how it’s only uplifted when White people tell Black stories.

Black pain is only endorsed when it spares the earned grief and guilt of White oppressors who make the decisions that matter.

American heroes can’t be celebrated by a picky and graceless industry if they happen to be Black or Brown.

And that’s really fucked up.

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