Chris Rock kills, but bias lives on

The Oscars were on last Sunday and Chris Rock put on a clinic of how to show grace under fire. Despite calls for a boycott and suggestions that he should step down as host, Rock delivered an edgy, mostly funny opening monologue. Not everything landed (who’s fault was that Stacey Dash bit?), but a lot of it was fly-yes, that pun was very intentional- (‘Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties – I wasn’t invited’; ┬áblack folks ‘were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer’; the clip featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan inserting themselves into nominated films – great sfx btw!) . At one point, he soften a bit, simply saying that all black actors want is opportunity. It was in that moment, I realized something…that’s not going to happen.

There is something uncomfortable in 2016 about any group of capable, creative people asking peers for a chance. People are designed to protect their own self interests; it’s all about survival, so in an industry where it’s incredibly hard to succeed (white or not), we’re asking those who work the most to give up a piece of the pie? Why would they? They know how lucky they are to work AND they know how quickly it goes (especially if you’re a woman of a certain age), so what motivation do they have to diversify (i.e, increase an already crowded playing field)? And please don’t say fairness because nobody cares about equity when it comes to money unless you’re talking about ownership. And please don’t say justice because Hollywood is not the government or law enforcement (and you can see how well those institutions have done by people of color).

We’re asking for people to change what they do and not what they think and that’s a waste of time. Ok, so you throw a couple of nominations out to black folks. Is that the answer? A bigger problem becomes watered down to something superficial and ultimately, can’t be taken seriously. It’s not about how many black actors get nominated. That’s a worthless discussion if we’re not talking about minority writers, directors, crew, producers or the fact that Asians and Latinos have it worse. We’re asking white people to give us a place at a table where nine times out a ten, we don’t like the food they serve!

Enough with that. While I didn’t agree with Jada Pinkett regarding an Oscars boycott, I do agree with her statement via her Facebook page that ‘we must stand in our power’. It’s not self imposed segregation to create films and shows with our own money; It’s called community: a collection of like minded individuals working toward one goal. So, while the solution isn’t knocking on doors, it’s not kicking them down either. It’s going back to your house, inviting some friends over and getting the job done.

Married At First Sight: The Missing Link

Had no clue what I was going to write about tonight, but I decided to stick with the marriage theme this time extending into reality TV. Married At First Sight is a social experiment, but not really, after all arranged marriages have been around for centuries. The real appeal of the show is almost akin to watching Fear Factor; the attraction is the shock and awe of seeing real people doing something you would never do. The premise: three couples are matched by four experts; they marry sight unseen, go on a honeymoon, and move in together over the course of six weeks and at the end decide whether or not to stay together. The first season was mostly a success with two couples staying married. Last season…not so much. Everyone divorced leaving viewers wondering if after only two showings, whether or not the show had run out of steam.

My gut says the show’s problem is in it’s all white panel of matchmakers. The first season, despite not being a fan of the show, I was disappointed to see that the lone black couple got a divorce. When all three pairs split the following season, I figured out the problem: there’s a culture gap between the experts and the participants of color. Personality, character and dealbreakers are all nice to talk about, but much of that stems from where and what they grew up in. If the show wants better success, they need to incorporate feedback from family to give a fuller picture of what kind of person is looking to get married.