As Oscar nominations were announced, The Help actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were acknowleged for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Spencer recently received her first Golden Globes award in the same category earlier this month. While congratulations are in order for Davis and Spencer, these nods come as no surprise given the award show's tendency to acknowledge Black actors roles playing stereotypical or traditionally-accepted roles.
Proof of Hollywood's committment to its tradition of honoring the same Black images also came via the blatant disregard for Dee Rees' breakout indie film Pariah. Despite widespread acclaim (including a shoutout from Meryl Streep in her recent Golden Globes acceptance speech), the film received nary a nomination in any category, the most glaring omission being Adepero Oduye for Best Actress.
Both The Help and Pariah featured black actresses demonstrating once again that race doesn't play a factor when it comes to talent or range, yet only one film featured a plethora of Black talent behind the lens and portrayed a multidimensional, portrayal of oft-ignored Black experiences. Thus, it isn't such a surprise that the one with the Black maids in the South came up a winner with the Academy.
Is this a sign that Black talent and films should finally be done with the Oscars? Should we keep begging to be acknowleged for more than what Hollywood deems to be 'authentic Blackness'?