Celebrities stop by the ESSENCE photo booth in the New Orleans Convention Center during Fourth of July weekend 2015: Yara Shahidi and mother Keri Shahidi, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Josiah Bell, Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin, Lianne La Havas, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett, Goapele, Ava DuVernay, and Justine Skye
Keegan-Michael Key as Richard Sherman and Jordan Peele as Marshawn Lynch discuss the Academy’s decision not to nominate Ava DuVernay (Selma) for Best Director at the 87th Academy Awards.
But how you gonna nominate Selma for Best Film but Ava DuVernay is not gonna get a Best Director nomination? Like, I don’t understand exactly how that works and I’m not a member of the Academy but it seems like things are a little backwards there!
“It’s Selma that’s making my head spin. Ava DuVernay was, frankly, robbed of a Best Director nomination - a nomination that would have made history. She would have been the first black woman nominated for the award, the fourth black person and the fifth woman. And get this - she deserved it! The Bloody Sunday sequence alone makes the case for her inclusion, although I’d say the rest of the film is very well directed. Also left out from Selma is Bradford Young, who shot two of the best looking movies this year (A Most Violent Year, totally shut out, was the other). How does he not make the cut? How does David Oyelowo not get nominated for an incredible turn as Martin Luther King? And when you think about Selma being left out of the Best Screenplay race, think about this - the movie couldn’t use any of Dr. King’s actual speeches due to rights issues (Dreamworks owns the speeches, believe it or not). All of the speeches in that movie were written for the movie.”
Dick Poop Or, The Expected Ignorance Of Oscar Nominations
Even if you expected the Oscar noms to be bad, you couldn’t have expected them to be this bad.
The DuVernay choice is great news for the future of the Marvel franchise not only because of the more diverse perspective she can bring to the table (she’d be the first non-white, non-male director to see a Marvel film to its completion), but also because in hiring someone with such strong vision, Marvel can combat accusations that its lucrative franchise is a creatively stifling place for directors. In the past, Marvel has employed a wide-range of creative directorial talents from Kenneth Branagh and Shane Black toJon Favreau and Joss Whedon. But it’s only been a year since Edgar Wright left the studio’s Ant-Man, a project he had been developing for the better part of a decade, over creative differences and just a few months since Whedon sounded off with remarkable candor about the “really unpleasant” storytelling battles he lost in making Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Michelle Obama celebrated the beauty, power and tenacity of
black women while spreading her own message of education for girls at Black
Girls Rock!, an annual event honoring trailblazing women of color from all
walks of life. Congratulations to the beautiful women honored at the awards
including actress Jada Pinkett Smith, singer Erykah Badu, actress
Cicely Tyson, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, educator Nadia Lopez and
Dr. Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you
come from, you are beautiful. I am so proud of you. My husband, your president,
is so proud of you. We have so much hope and dreams for you” Michelle Obama
told the crowd, which included many young black girls: http://huff.to/1ONPbdU via The Huffington
Ava DuVernay was never going to direct Black Panther. Even if she’d accepted the job, even if they’d gone into pre-production, even if they were a week out from cameras rolling, she was never going to direct Black Panther. Yet when rumors circulated that Marvel wanted her for the job, I allowed myself the delusion of thinking about what her version of the character might look like.
Naturally, that version will never exist because the only version that can be allowed to exist — regardless of who gets the directing job — is Marvel‘s. Now that DuVernay has made plain that she won’t be making the movie, Marvel can find a new yeoman filmmaker on the rise (or on the other side of the down slope) who either sees perfectly eye to eye with what they want or is willing to go along with it for the paycheck and exposure.
Kim Masters and Borys Kit made this point beautifully back when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man after Marvel handed him a rewritten script he had nothing to do with. It’s not so much that Marvel is making movies, as much as they’re making $150m big-screen television episodes where Kevin Feige is the showrunner and the directing talent is treated like they would be in TV Land: capable conduits for a singular vision (that’s not theirs).
The funny thing about creative differences is that it’s only one person that walks away. Marvel waved goodbye to Wright, they fired Patty Jenkins from Thor 2, they gave Joss Whedon hell on Age of Ultron even after he helped them bust the box office with Avengers, Jon Favreau didn’t want to do Iron Man 3 because there was no clear vision, Alan Taylor echoed the sentiment that Marvel is “making it up as they go,” Edward Norton stopped playing The Hulk because he couldn’t get control over the character, and even directors like Kenneth Branagh who have expressed public willingness to return to the Marvel fold clashed with the studio during production.
What’s interesting is how open these actors and directors have been in criticizing Marvel after their time there. The consensus seems to be that Marvel works with too-tight budgets, too-tight turnaround on productions, and goes into a shooting schedule with incomplete scripts because of it. Elements that are typically found in a recipe for disaste"
Scott Beggs, “Mourning The Ava DuVernay Black Panther Movie that would never been made.”
“I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs,” said DuVernay. “In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn’t see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.”
“Marvel is courting “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay to direct one of its diverse superhero movies, which include “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel,” multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation have told TheWrap. Insiders suggest that “Black Panther,” due first in July 2018, is the most likely possibility.
Marvel has had discussions with DuVernay about taking the reins of one of its marquee comic book properties and while the studio is considering other directors, there is mutual interest in having her join the MCU…
Insiders told TheWrap that Marvel is intent on hiring an African-American director for “Black Panther” and a female filmmaker for “Captain Marvel.” DuVernay’s hiring would make her Marvel’s first African-American and first female director, which would no doubt double as a public relations boon for the company…”
Marvel is courting “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay to direct one of its diverse superhero movies, which include “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel,” multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation have told TheWrap. Insiders suggest that “Black Panther,” due first in July 2018, is the most likely possibility.
Marvel has had discussions with DuVernay about taking the reins of one of its marquee comic book properties and while the studio is considering other directors, there is mutual interest in having her join the MCU.
There Is No Nicki Minaj vs. Sandra Bland. Black People Can Discuss Both.
Incredible author, activist and media personality Janet Mock responded so well to the consistent misogynoir (anti-Black misogyny; term coined by the brilliant Moya Bailey) in the media yesterday when she replied toEntertainment Weekly and their poor depiction of Nicki Minaj’s critique of the music industry and Taylor Swift’s response (and EW wasn’t the only outlet to do this either). This came about because Nicki specifically mentioned MTV not nominating “Anaconda” for Video of The Year. This video is an important expression of Black women’s bodies reclaimed as a site of beauty, sensuality, pleasure and in the control of Black women, diverting thin Eurocentric beauty norms and White perceptions of sexuality. It’s also incredibly artistic and playful in a way rarely acceptable for Black women to express ourselves in. In her tweets, Nicki also alluded to misogynoir in the industry in general, and in relation to Black women’s bodies, cultural production and influence. When Nicki tweeted that she is “tired,” it spoke to something really specific in Black women’s experiences with marginalization and erasure.
Taylor Swift wrongly dived into the conversation in true White feminist fashion. However, I am not overly interested in discussing Taylor Swift doing the typical White woman, White feminist four step, though I sent one tweet about it. I have plenty of past writing on derailment, gaslighting, erasure, misogynoir, racism and anti-Blackness from mainstream White feminism and White women, in general. I feel like if people really cared about Black women, this tweet wouldn’t seem like such a revelation or surprise (as some people acted this way). It means that they’re not engaging with the reality that Black women in the media and Black women in our daily lives deal with.
What I am interested in is how some fellow Black people are using this moment for what has been called #TwitterComparisons, where a false equalization is created to silence one topic in place of another, and usually by fellow Black people who exhibit few opinions on either topic presented, outside of baiting other Black people who may express opinions on both. Some Black people are using this conversation about Nicki Minaj to pretend that no Black people are discussing State violence and the suspicious death of Sandra Bland, which I believe was in fact an extrajudicial execution. Her death deeply pains me and is difficult for me to discuss. And this idea that I must discuss it all day is actually quite violent. Further, I still resent what amounts to trading lynching post cards when endless visuals of police harm on her and Black people in general are hyperconsumed and it is virtually impossible to find an article where this is not standard practice. I elaborated on this in yearsof work on what I call “post-mortem media violence.” And to be clear, for the 1,342,338 time, my discussions of post-mortem media violence are NOT solely about my personal mental health care and my psychological response to being expected to endlessly consume visuals of Black death (usually without my consent; the content is usually forced on me) or about self-care/trigger warnings. It is about the dehumanization of Black life, the consumption of the harm on Black bodies as bodies supposedly not truly susceptible to pain, and the lie that the sheer consumption of the hypervisibility of Black death is equal to activism against State violence. (I mention the latter because some people–primarily Whites and Black men–have been willfully misconstruing my work or not even willing to engage it as honestly and as thoroughly as they would if I were White/male.)
Thus, when some Black people suggest that no one should discuss Nicki Minaj and instead discuss Sandra Bland, I have a problem. They are not critiquing the problem with post-mortem media violence being construed as awareness and activism. They are also erasing the amount of activist labor–usually lead by Black women at that–that already exists for Sandra Bland. They are erasing how people responded in sheer pain to further revelations on the case today, such as video footage of Sandra’s encounter with the police that award-winning film director Ava DuVernay alluded to; it may have been tampered with. (I have no issue with specific analysis like this; thoughtful and truthful engagement with my writing on post-mortem media violence would reveal such.) But a larger form of erasure is occurring in three key ways. One way is that this juxtaposition rests on respectability politics. Because some people demonize Nicki for her presentation, her “value” is deemed below someone they view as “respectable” like Sandra Bland was. But see, this same respectability politics issue is why people are more likely to recognize Sandra Bland’s name than Kindra Chapman’s. The second way is the performance for the White Gaze. One of the reasons why some Black people demand silence of joy (beyond both Black and non-Black people being invested in denying Black women joy in general, which I discussed in Misogynoir and The Concerted Effort To Deny Black Women Joy) is the idea that our joy and our pleasure are irresponsible. Or shouldn’t happen anywhere Whites can see. Thus, the idea is that Black people who make jokes about Taylor Swift (or Meek Mill’s odd “expose” tweets last night on rappers who don’t write their own lyrics; which I have thoughts on as well) are not “performing” Black humanity properly and won’t be viewed by White people properly. The trouble with the White Gaze. But…they oppress us and kill us regardless. Regardless. The humanity of Blackness is denied. This anti-Blackness is something that incredible Black thinkers and writers such as Frank Wilderson, Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Jared Sexton and @so_treu elaborate on with a specificity and genius unmatched.
The “Angry Black Woman” archetype that the national media uses to harm Nicki Minaj is also used to justify Sandra Bland’s death. Discussing Nicki isn’t frivolous. People say discuss State violence, not pop culture. As if they are not connected via misogynoir. #SayHerName exists because once State violence is discussed, people center Black men. Thus, I already know the “discuss Sandra not Nicki” rebuttal is about erasure of both, actually. “Ignore famous Black woman!” “Focus on Black men for State violence!”
The reason why I am interested in this among us Black people is because this is my focus when I write. Our thoughts. Our feelings. Our healing. Our activism. Our pain. Our pleasure. Especially so for Black women. Thus, I am not interested in arbitrarily pathologizing Black people here. I am interested in how these forced comparisons function as erasure of Black women in our own community. Whether we are trying to live and unknown, whether famous and used as media/public punching bags in ways that impact non-famous Black women let alone those famous ones, whether we are killed via intraracial gender violence or by the State. Thus, there is no service to Sandra Bland that happens by ignoring the very same misogynoir that killed her being used to demonize Black women in the media like Nicki Minaj. Until people understand what anti-Blackness and misogyny actual entail for Black women, we and everyone else will continue to pretend that pop culture and State violence do not operate in the same spheres. The same media that degrades Nicki is the same media engaging in post-mortem media violence of Sandra Bland. This does not mean that Nicki’s fame, platform size and her first generation of wealth should be ignored. Of course Black women–especially womanists and Black feminists–discuss nuances of privilege intraracially and among Black women. See, if able to, we can truly hold multiple ideas and viewpoints in our consciousness simultaneously. The anti-Black ableist lies about inherent inferior Black intelligence are ones that I reject. I don’t think that Nicki should be paid attention to because fame matters more than non-famous people; rich Black celebrities don’t exactly need the same type of defense non-rich non-famous Black people need. Nicki’s situation matters because it is the same misogynoir as to why Sandra Bland is viewed as angry and deserving of death by many in the public, the media and the State itself. Angry. Black. Woman. Archetype.
Certainly someone can choose to focus on Sandra Bland and not comment on Nicki Minaj at all. Certainly someone else can choose to focus on misogynoir in pop culture and allow other womanists, Black feminists, and activists in general to focus on State violence. I personally discuss both. Our emotion is not only conveyed through measurable outputs of labor. I am not just the work that I do. I am a person. This idea that Black people have to shut up about one thing to care about another reduces our humanity into a falsely equalized stance where Black women have to pick and choose between the violence we face daily–partly the responsibility of the media–and the violence that we are at risk for in our own communities and at the hands of the State. All of these impact us. Black women matter as whole people. Fellow Black people–especially ones that assert that Black Lives Matter–would do best to understand this. Black women are whole people with whole lives. And the same reduction into controlling images (i.e. Jezebel, mammy, Sapphire), stereotypes (i.e. welfare queen, welfare mother, emasculating matriarch, mule, gold digger), archetypes (i.e. Angry Black Woman, Strong Black Woman) and labor output that happens to us via non-Black people, especially via Whites, is not something that I want to experience from fellow Black people, especially ones who suggest that they’re activists. Activism that doesn’t center the full humanity of Black women (and Black LGBTQIA people regardless of gender) is activism that is of no interest to me. Black people truly can choose what to discuss and consider the wholeness and humanity of Black women in these discussions.
EXCLUSIVE: Essence’s 2015 Black Women in Hollywood Photo Booth Featuring Ava DuVernay, Skylar Diggins, Tracee Ellis Ross, Garcelle Beauvais, Mara Brock Akil, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and more: http://bit.ly/1DJy0os
Looks like it wasn’t the screeners. Conventional wisdom as to why Selma was shut out of the SAG, PGA, DGA, and BAFTA awards held that Paramount failed to send advanced screeners to guild members before voting began. Coupled with a late December release, pundits argued Selma just didn’t have time to build much buzz before guild nominations were announced. Some predicted the film would fare much better at the Academy Awards, whose members did receive their screeners in time. Yet Thursday’s Oscar nominations saw a virtual Selma shut-out (on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday no less). The film was nominated only for Best Song and Best Picture, although with no other major nominations it has little chance of winning the latter category. The film received no technical awards, no Best Actor nod for its stunning lead David Oyelowo, and no Best Director nomination for Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first black woman ever nominated for the Best Director Oscar.
It would have been understandable had Selma not won every major award this year. It’s inconceivable it wasn’t nominated for them.
Yes we should get angry about Selma’s awards season snubs. Yes we should question why Selma is called out for historical inaccuracies when other historical dramas aren’t. Yes we should call these snubs racist and sexist, even though others will offer less controversial assessments. But along the way, we shouldn’t forget that Selma is also a great piece of cinema. And that legacy can last well after this embarrassing chapter of Oscar history fades.