Moonlight on merit? An Oscars reaction Chris Faers February 27, 2017 Editor's Choice, Features 2816 As La La Land, sorry, Moonlight eventually walked away with a fully deserved Best Picture Oscar, amongst the chaos, there was a congratulatory sense of job-well-done in regards to the whole equality and diversity issue that has plagued the Academy Awards in recent years. But the question needs to be asked: would Moonlight have won without the whole #OscarsSoWhite cloud last year? Yes, of course it would have – it was objectively the best film out of the nine nominees and will go onto become a timeless classic rather than joining the likes of Crash and A Beautiful Mind in Best Picture obscurity and hindsight regret. As for some of the other winners, would Mahershala Ali have still won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar without reforms to the Academy? Yes. Ali gives a performance of full of heart, passion and tenderness. An understated, controlled portrayal of a man who would be a one dimensional, unsympathetic character in many other films. Would Viola Davis have won the Best Supporting Actress gong for her stoic-come-powerhouse performance in Fences without the controversy last year? Absolutely and, if anything, she could’ve easily won the Best Actress Oscar had the studio pushed for her it in that category. I could go on, but just like previous years, people voted for what they thought was the best of said category. Surely, for the most part at the very least, the likes of Dev Patel, Hidden Figures, Denzel Washington, Fences, Ruth Negga, Naomie Harris and Octavia Spencer would have still got nominations – regardless of any politics. However, with many of the Academy’s critics in the post-nominations build up stating the whole so-white-Oscars-thing has worked, are they devaluing worthy work in the process? Even as I write this, there are discussions on the morning news about the possibility of Moonlight’s win being the Academy’s attempt to right some wrongs, proclaiming it as a night where ‘diversity shone through’ and Sky News’ Kriss Akabusi claiming: “It could’ve been a movie that would’ve been overlooked this time last year.” Obviously, awards should be objective, but when it comes to media, art and the like, any objectivity is still formed by your sense of subjectivity – otherwise there wouldn’t be people out there who completely dismiss Star Wars: A New Hope. The 2017 nominees and winners got there on merit alone and nothing else, but with the massive push for a diverse ceremony and lots of back patting for the range of diverse races, characters, films, and whatnot – are these people saying, even if in a backwards way, they only got recognition because of something as irrelevant as the colour of their skin? I’m the first to admit I often see things very simply, and hopefully like everyone else should, I admire the craft and nothing else. I didn’t even think about the races of the various 2016 nominees until it was pointed out. The media and the Academy need to let the topic die down and simply allow the pictures to be whatever they are and the cream will always rise to the top. Yes, as a white, heterosexual male aged 30-40, equality and diversity is easy for me to talk about, but when asked how to solve the problem of racism by Mike Wallace on the television show, 60 Minutes, Morgan Freeman said: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.” Racism and discrimination should be treated as seriously as any other subject, but in this situation, it could end up doing more harm than good to nominees and winners. To quote this year’s host, Jimmy Kimmel: “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?” Next year hopefully people will remember last night’s ceremony for the excellence of the movies involved rather than the whole diversity debate. But in all honesty, people will thankfully come to remember Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and PWC more than any potential queries about Moonlight’s legitimacy.