Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who created the multi-platform hip hop and youth culture brand – All Def Digital (ADD), will hold it’s first ever All Def Digital Awards show.
“In 2016 there continues to be a stunning lack of diversity in the studios, in the green light process, in the decisions of what films and television series get made, and what stars get chosen. This needs to be addressed institutionally,” Simmons said in his statement, “The All Def Movie Awards are not the Black Oscars but they could be. This will be a fun, entertaining and hopefully thought provoking celebration of the uncelebrated.”
I’m a bit torn on this move by Russell Simmons. I respect how he’s attempting to counter Hollywood’s diversity issue and appease frustrated African-Americans, in which social media outrage gave birth to the #OscarsSoWhite backlash; however, I feel that this endeavor can promote an air of segregation. I thought it was a shame that Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Dope and Concussion – films with African-American lead casts, did not get nominated for an Oscar. I, for one, believed that ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was an instant lock for an Oscar. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. So in response to the lack of validation from the Academy Awards on outstanding African-American film performers and Hollywood’s shortcomings of diversified film projects, Russell Simmons takes a do–it–yourself–approach by creating a black-themed awards show. As valiant as Simmons’ effort can be to address these issues, it can also send the wrong message. It can provide more fuel to the sense of divide or the lack thereof in Hollywood.
Maybe there’s too much focus on the Oscars and as a whole, we’re all missing the larger point. The focus should be placed squarely on equality in our society. What kind of society are we looking to live in? When it comes to race issues, gender issues or sexuality issues – do we want a society where people are equal, or don’t we? This is where Hollywood studios and producers need to be held more accountable. There was a time when casting or green-lighting an all-white film was considered normal; that is no longer the case. Nowadays, it’s a choice. Hollywood execs are choosing to doing something very direct – or perhaps even blatant. They are routinely deciding to cast film projects entirely white, or choosing to green-light an entirely white movie. This is where the heart of the matter lies… not the Oscars. This is where our best creative minds within the film industry, must come together, make diversity a priority and only then, we can even out Hollywood’s landscape, sort of speak.
Best of luck to Uncle Rush on his new venture. I hope it produces an overwhelmingly positive outcome.
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