Don’t Expect Oscar Nom for ‘The Birth of a Nation’ – Is Rape or Racism to Blame?

October 18, 2016

 

 

*Yes, if you’re a fan of the film, “The Birth of a Nation,” the headline is rather jarring and in your face. Unfortunately it’s the reality according to Glenn Whip, an LA Times award columnist.

Whip notes that just like the ($7.1 million) box office take of the Nate Parker film was not what was supposedly expected, the movie’s reception with Oscar voters has also been disappointing. The columnist is reporting that approximately 250 people – academy members and their guests (up to three per member) – showed up at the 1,000-seat Samuel L. Goldwyn Theater last Sunday to see the movie.


As I wrote here, the low turnout wasn’t surprising. I’ve never had so many academy members tell me point-blank that they won’t see a movie as they have with “Birth.” Reasons ranged from distaste over the details of Parker’s 1999 rape case, disdain for how Parker answered questions about his past while promoting the movie and a general fatigue with films about slavery.

Here’s the bottom line: Between the box office and voter indifference, don’t expect any Oscar nominations for “Birth.” Wow, that’s a damn shame and it’s a complete turn of events for a movie that many are calling a cinematic masterpiece and was easily expected to be a best picture nominee when it premiered at Sundance in January.

roman polanski
Roman Polanski with his Oscar for ‘The Pianist’

This situation could get interesting for Hollywood in the sense that undoubtedly some are going to see “Birth” being shunned as racist in light of the fact that filmmaker Roman Polanski won a best picture Oscar in 2003 for “The Pianist.” In fact, he couldn’t even accept the award because he can’t even set foot in the United States without being arrested.

And why is that, you ask?

Because Polanski, fled the US for France in 1978 as he was about to be sentenced to prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

 

Damn, talk about hypocrisy. So Hollywood doesn’t have a problem nominating and giving an Oscar to a CONVICTED white rapist, but when it comes to Nate Parker, a black visionary and director who was ACQUITTED of a rape charge, there’s a problem.

Oh yeah, there’s also this. Whip also wrote that: “Sunday’s shunning of “Birth” also signals the lingering resentment many academy members feel over January’s #OscarSoWhite controversy, when voters were criticized for nominating an all-white slate of acting nominees for a second consecutive year. The academy’s immediate pledge to diversify and broaden its membership angered many voters who believed the timing of the response implied that their balloting had racist undertones.”

nate parker & wife
Nate Parker and his wife, Sarah DiSanto

It’ll also be interesting to see if the black community comes to Parker’s defense. It’s obvious that another one of the reasons – and perhaps the main reason – the film didn’t do better was the fact that it didn’t get much if any support from African American film goers and black women in particular who pledged not to see the film because Parker is married to a white woman.

So again we ask … should the sad state of affairs for Nate Parker and “The Birth of a Nation” be blamed on rape or racism?
 

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