On The Oscars, Suga

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I don’t think Mo’Nique ever had a problem with being honored by the Academy. It seemed to be more of an issue of whether or not she would bend over backwards to be honored for something she felt should be solely based on merit. She chose not to and based on her comments in recent and not so recent interviews, she’s admittedly about the bottom line. To some people you have to give a little to get more in the long run. To others they want all that you can give them from the jump.

As I contemplate driving up the block, turning on “Toss It Up,” and pop-pop-pop that thang for student loan cash, I can’t be mad at those who select the latter in hindsight.

She made her intentions clear and in the end she won anyway. Good for her. I’ve noticed some people argue against her politics comment during her acceptance speech and have sought to flip her words into something that more so mirrors their intentions. I think what she meant was some people – white film critics – called for her to be put in her place.

Most notably Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere, who previously wrote, “Deny her a nomination and teach her a lesson.”

Call it racist. Call it classist. Call it neither. Call it whatever you want, but know that’s exactly the sort of “politics” Mo’Nique was talking about.

This is evident by her breaking protocol last night inside of the Oscar press room by choosing to speak with people who she said had her back from the very beginning. I don’t fall into the theory that her “non-campaign” was her method of campaigning. I believe there was so much spin on it because the establishment was baffled that she openly boasted about not caving into what they wanted from her. Everyone else but her made it an issue.

I didn’t really think it was necessary to demand $100,000 for an appearance but as of March 08, 2010 Mo’Nique’s money runs marathons around mine…and most of the people who talked about her.

So bravo to her and I’m happy that she won.

One thing I’m not happy about, though, is a sentiment I read on Twitter yesterday. I’m paraphrasing but in short, someone spoke ill of Mo’Nique’s kind words towards Hattie McDaniel by jesting that she’s thanking a woman who played a maid so she could play an abusive mother.

To that I say: Shut your silly, bougie, ridiculous ass the hell up.

Moreover, see Hattie McDaniel’s own words to the NAACP in response to their criticism at the time: “I would rather make 700 dollars a week playing a maid than seven dollars being one.”

Hattie McDaniel did the best she could with what she was given. I don’t think it’s right to disparage her for it.

That said, I do get why some people feel the way they do about Mo’Nique and Sandra Bullock winning.

I wrote about The Blind Side previously based on the trailer and now that I’ve actually seen the film my feelings are not all that different.

But, I’m personally not mad at Sandra Bullock winning. I like her. Does that take the sting away from the film? No, however, the movie does pull from a true story. Did the screenwriter and director perhaps take away some of the nuance from the book? It seems that way, but I’d have to read it to know. I can only speak on what I’ve seen or read. Imagine that.

Had Avatar won Best Picture, while I would’ve potentially gritted my teeth, I’d understand why the movie would have won. It’s a technological feat and as the highest grossing movie of all-time (thanks, inflation) it’s a cultural movement that cannot be denied — no matter how anyone feels about its script.

Yes, it’s very much Dances With Blue People. Or Smurfs Save The Day. Pocahontas With Freestyle Braids, for sure. And there’s definitely quite a few underlying racial overtones that made me want to call one of my homegirls to whoop Sigourney Weaver’s Blue Bo Derek looking ass in the film out of spite.

Yet sigh, the movie made a lot of money and people like pretty stuff with happy endings. It wouldn’t have been shocking if it won.

It’s an unfortunate reality that despite all the time that has passed white audiences still like to honor us for the best portrayal of our worst, but it’s even more unfortunate to me that some people can’t ever see a silver lining.

Last night the first female director won an Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture over a monstrous film with a huge name attached to it. And although he didn’t win last night, Lee Daniels is the second black film director to be nominated for Best Director. Chances are he’ll likely be back in contention for that award for the upcoming film, Selma. As will Mo’Nique if her plans to develop a biopic on Hattie McDaniel come to fruition.

As a writer, I take great comfort in Geoffrey Fletcher becoming the first black screenwriter to be honored by the Academy. Also feel inspired by Mark Boal’s win as he’s a freelance journalist and the script for The Hurt Locker was his first. My dream is to one day follow in their footsteps.

Some of these movies employed themes and imagery that could stand to take a beat seat for a couple of decades, but Fresh reminded me this morning that I’ve seen far worse:

Gabby Sidibe didn’t back hand a hoe last night while on stage. Be grateful.

If I sound a bit hypocritical, I can’t help it. I do get some of the criticism and I’m guilty of leveling some of it myself; but, last night I didn’t want to completely dwell on any of it.

No, everything is not perfect for minorities and women, but little by little progress has been made. I’d rather focus on that than on something I won’t be able to change. Not today anyway.

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