Green Book and the Oscars' Complicated History With Movies About RaceBreaking News
tags: film, Oscars, Race, American History
When Green Book won Best Picture at the Oscars last night, its director, Peter Farrelly, struck a tone of unity and progress: “The whole story is about loving each other despite our differences, and finding the truth out about who we are: We’re the same people,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Spike Lee, whose movie BlacKkKlansman was also up for Best Picture, was skeptical. In an interview backstage, he likened the film’s win to a “bad call” in basketball and then drew a connection between BlacKkKlansman’s loss this year and a similar situation in 1990—when his movie about racial tensions in Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing, was snubbed in favor of Driving Miss Daisy. “Every time somebody’s driving somebody I lose,” he said.
The contrast between these directors’ tones and viewpoints epitomizes a struggle over stories about race throughout Oscars history. To many, Green Book’s victory fits into a pattern of the Oscars rewarding safe, self-congratulatory and white-created films about race, in which a satisfying but ultimately false equality is achieved before the credits roll.
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