By Michael Vass | January 23, 2016
As stated on my Facebook account –
Danny DeVito believes America is racist. Because Black Actors/Actresses didn’t get nominated in the last 2 years. Consider this -
Mr. DeVito has been a producer (and director) of films for more than 14 years. In that time he has produced 23 films.
Of his films, 8 have had 1 Black actor/actress. Better than many in Hollywood, but not significant. And when I say 1 I mean EXACTLY that (with the exception of only 2 films).
More important than the number of people he has employed is what he employed them for. As a Producer he has massive power in who shows up on the screen. Only 2 films star Black actors/actresses – How High and Freedom Writers.
In 6 films, DeVito has employed POC actors as addicts and criminals. Only in 1 film was this seriously contrasted – an activist film. Oh, I’m sorry, I left out the bumbling inept drug using law enforcement in the ensemble Reno 911 film. My bad.
Of the 9 films he has directed in 40 years, not one has has a POC. That’s in any starring or support role.
I say this to put into context the words of Mr. DeVito. As a member of the Oscar’s Academy, as a producer and director, he has power in Hollywood. Considering his successes he has even more power than the majority of his peers. Yet the overwhelming majority of his work has only been to reinforce stereotypes and Hollywood tropes.
With this all in context, I am not saying that DeVito is insincere in his concern about Hollywood bias. I am saying he is inconsistent. I am saying that this is a Hollywood issue, advanced by the very industry he is in and not the American people. I am saying he has been part of the problem more than the solution for 2 generations thus far.
It rings hollow to me when multi-millionaires who make their living off of institutional bias, join a bandwagon. I find it insulting when these individuals adopt political positions suddenly based on the popularity of a secluded minority of elites. It is aggravating when these elites blame a nation for actions this handful of power-brokers make their living on.
Could Hollywood be better? Absolutely. But the snubs (which always occur – just look back at reviews of the Oscar nominations going back to the beginning) of today are not the snubs of say the 60′s or prior. The successes of Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Will Smith, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Spike Lee, Jaime Foxx, Samuel Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Forrest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Djimon Hounsou, Anthony Mackie, Taye Diggs, Queen Latifa, Whoppi Goldberg, Ving Rhames, Tyler Perry, Morris Chestnut… I can go on, because the industry has changed and my point is made.
A portion of America is racist. A portion of the world is racist. Such is human nature. But Hollywood is not human nature. It has nurtured and promoted various stereotypes with little change. Not the fault of America, but a incredibly small group of very elite people that count Danny DeVito among them, working to promote their personal gains. If Mr. DeVito wants to see a change, it may be best if HE first makes a change and leads by example rather than thrusting blame on consumers of his extremely limited and decidedly stereotypical products that he now (after reaping rewards) seems to have misgivings about.