Twitter has changed the way news is reported. The Black Lives Matter movement has been particularly successful in raising awareness for cases of police brutality that generally would have been overlooked by mainstream news channels.
Arguably the second most important aspect of Twitter is its ability to connect celebrities to their fan base. With the prevalence of these two features, it’s hardly surprising that celebrities and celebrity events have become more politicized.
This year’s Academy Awards are a prime example of this overlap between the celebrity world and political struggles that have been highlighted via Twitter. Below, I’ve included a few notable examples of Twitter flexing its muscles at the Oscars
I’m not going to dwell too much on the circumstances of the #OscarsSoWhite boycott, since Gordon and Evan have already thoroughly explained its context. However, I do want to talk a bit about how the controversy was handled by the Oscars host, Chris Rock.
Overall, I thought Rock did a great job calling out the Academy without reducing his monologue to a humourless lecture. However, in his article for Salon, Arthur Chu points out that,
Acting like caring about day-to-day violence in the streets and the impact media and culture have on that violence are somehow mutually exclusive — a common, frustrating, tired argument anyone who talks about racism in media will inevitably see dozens of times in the comments section — ignores history.
It ignores the many, many arguments that have been made about how the excuses made for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown frequently come verbatim from untrue stereotypes out of TV and movies, how the only way Darren Wilson’s description of Brown as a “demon” who was “bulking up to get through the bullets” could possibly make sense to anyone is after a lifetime of media portrayals of the scary superhuman black man. It ignores Martin Luther King going out of his way to call Nichelle Nichols and tell her not to quit “Star Trek” because having a black woman on TV who wasn’t a domestic servant mattered. It ignores the ongoing civil rights protests around the Oscars back in the 1960s and ’70s, including Marlon Brando making history as the first and only best actor winner to boycott the ceremony, sending American Indian Movement activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the award in his place.
Similarly, several activists have since pointed out the one-dimensionality of calling for more black representation only to appeal to Asian-American stereotypes for a laugh. Continue reading