Mar 15, 2016

The Academy Awards & the Presumption of Equality

via Counter-Currents

So far this year there has been a lot of chatter in the mainstream media about how, for the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not nominate any blacks for its Academy Awards.

Even more newsworthy was the vehemence with which many blacks opposed this decision. Their condemnation of the Academy in many cases was very public, exceedingly hostile, and bluntly racial. As a result, social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has made a comeback. Further, several high-profile black celebrities, such as director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith, have vowed to boycott the Oscars this year as a message to get the Academy to become more racially diverse in its award allocations.

As silly and infantile as these concerns are, they are instructive because they offer a glimpse into the surprisingly consistent way in which black elites tend to think about such matters. When discussing racial issues, nearly all of these black elites have an identical perspective: that of equality with whites. Where in law we have the ‘presumption of innocence,’ with blacks we have the ‘presumption of equality,’ or POE, for short. Of course, POE is a complete fiction. It ignores the near-universality of high black crime rates, misbehavior, and academic failure while discrediting the vastly greater accomplishments of whites. Despite its utter falsehood, however, POE has been central to the very identities of millions of blacks ever since W. E. B. Du Bois emerged over a century ago as an intellectual leader of their race in America.

So far this year there has been a lot of chatter in the mainstream media about how, for the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not nominate any blacks for its Academy Awards.

Even more newsworthy was the vehemence with which many blacks opposed this decision. Their condemnation of the Academy in many cases was very public, exceedingly hostile, and bluntly racial. As a result, social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has made a comeback. Further, several high-profile black celebrities, such as director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith, have vowed to boycott the Oscars this year as a message to get the Academy to become more racially diverse in its award allocations.

As silly and infantile as these concerns are, they are instructive because they offer a glimpse into the surprisingly consistent way in which black elites tend to think about such matters. When discussing racial issues, nearly all of these black elites have an identical perspective: that of equality with whites. Where in law we have the ‘presumption of innocence,’ with blacks we have the ‘presumption of equality,’ or POE, for short. Of course, POE is a complete fiction. It ignores the near-universality of high black crime rates, misbehavior, and academic failure while discrediting the vastly greater accomplishments of whites. Despite its utter falsehood, however, POE has been central to the very identities of millions of blacks ever since W. E. B. Du Bois emerged over a century ago as an intellectual leader of their race in America.

The First Rule of POE is quite clear:

Never violate POE.

If the facts support POE, then trumpet the facts to the heavens. If the facts don’t support POE, however, then simply ignore them or misconstrue them until they do. Either way, POE must always trump Truth.

This is essentially what is happening with the Oscars. Tim Gray of Variety sums it up thusly. “There were 305 films eligible this year. If hiring reflected the US population, Oscar voters would have weighed 150-plus films directed by women, 45 directed by blacks, 50 by Hispanics, and dozens of movies by directors who are Asian-American, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities and members of other minorities. Of course, the actual tallies were a fraction of those numbers.”

So, clearly something is wrong. According to POE, we should have numbers wildly different than the ones we’re seeing. Mr. Gray then goes on to evaluate how various people are attempting to solve this problem and what their expectations are. Never does he suggest that perhaps this uneven racial and gender distribution is the result of an unequal distribution of talent and training. To do so would be tantamount to saying that blacks are inferior actors, directors, and producers. And that, according to POE, will never do.

Why? Because POE is central to almost all political power and wealth that black elites have in this country. Without POE, there is less justification for every government initiative and agency of racial largesse that has been put into place since the Civil Rights Movement. The putative point of affirmative action, for example, is to uplift “disadvantaged” minorities that are otherwise equal to whites. This mode of thinking rose to prominence at the federal level as far back as the Kennedy administration which vowed that “race has no place in American life or law.” Since then it has become so embedded in the mainstream that most Americans can’t even imagine a time without it.

So, whenever something threatens to pull back the curtain on POE (as the Academy has done), it scares and angers the black elites who then insist that all blacks share their outrage—both as members of a privileged minority and as (presumed) equals to whites. No one likes being told they’re inferior, so it isn’t a terribly hard sell in any event.

This leads to the Second Rule of POE:
 

Always attack those who violate POE.

Stereo Williams of the Daily Beast states unequivocally that “Hollywood is very much invested in highlighting and celebrating only the whitest of its content and creators.” He goes on to say that we shouldn’t assume that the majority white male Academy members “aren’t wholly informed by aesthetic biases—which includes race.” Basically, white men are ignorant, bigoted racists, according to Mr. Williams.
Of course, this is silly. According to The Economist, “Blacks are 12.6 percent of the American population, and ten percent of Oscar nominations since 2000 have gone to black actors.” The Economist goes on further to say, “black actors get speaking roles in rough proportion to their percentage of America’s population, according to a study of 600 top films from 2007-2013 at the Annenberg Center for Communication and Journalism.”

Clearly, Mr. Williams would rather insist (against the data) that Academy members serve a secret racial motive than violate POE himself. He also forgets that Hollywood whites (a vast proportion of them being Jews who define themselves as opposed to white identity and interests) are some of the most liberal people in the nation. According to Newsmax, in 2012, Hollywood celebrities donated more to Barack Obama than Mitt Romney by a factor of 16-to-1. As of October 2015, according to Breitbart, 90 percent of Hollywood’s $5.5 million have gone to Hillary Clinton. If these are the white people Mr. Williams wishes to condemn as racists, it makes one wonder how racist he thinks the rest of us are.

Mr. Williams then goes on to question the validity of past white Oscar winners. He chafes under the irony of recent films with black directors being overlooked except in the cases of their white supporting actors (Sylvester Stallone, Creed) or white screenwriters (Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, Straight Outta Compton). He complains rather pettily about how the wealthy black actresses who have won Oscars in the past are not getting the plum post-Oscar roles that many wealthier white actresses have been getting. Apparently, something as theoretical as the market does not play a significant role in casting according to Mr. Williams.

He also exposes himself to be as racist as the people he condemns with the following sentence: “Maybe old white men don’t know sh*t about new, black cinema.”

In this, Mr. Williams follows the Third Rule of POE:

Never presume the equality of people who violate POE.

Marlow Stern, also of the Daily Beast, has proposed that since the Academy is majority white (94 percent) and its members are on average 63 years old, we should force its racial integration and kick out anyone who is over 65. Stern writes, “The Academy not only needs to diversify its leadership, but should also institute a cut-off age of 65 for members whose tastes no longer reflect the current zeitgeist.”

So, if you oppose POE, you soon may lose the right to vote on the Oscars. Sure, it’s hypocritical to propose inequality in the name of equality. But Stereo Williams, Marlow Stern, and many others these days possess a stout, honey badger-like disregard for their own hypocrisy. They’re playing by the rules of POE, you see. So it’s all good.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Stern complain about much more in their articles. When you embrace POE, there’s always more to complain about. Folks such as these will never be happy until that euphoric, far-in-the-future day when racial equality becomes so self-evident it no longer needs to be presumed.

Indeed, for the proponents of POE, POE is always coming, but it will never come. It takes on a theoretical, Trotskian inevitability which can be hastened only through activism, and the nastier, the better. But they have become so enamored with POE as a means to an end that they will never admit to reaching the Promised Land. In the Promised Land, they will no longer have a need for POE, you see.

“It is 2016 now,” says the giddy pro-POE-nent. “By 2020, we should expect more equality than we have today, and even more by 2030. But if we start agitating furiously right now, maybe we will get in 2020 what we would have gotten in 2030 without agitating. And then we can start complaining about how more light-skinned blacks are being nominated than dark-skinned ones. Wouldn’t that be great?”

Here is how I predict this will play out according to the tenets of POE: The Academy will stick to its guns for another few years, but the outrage will continue to escalate. Eventually, Academy members will tire of being called racists and will cave under the pressure—they are liberals, after all; this is what liberals do. These are people who already sympathize with POE in their own naïve way and adhere to it whenever they can. So, in a sense, they are being ideologically inconsistent if they don’t cave. Further, this being Hollywood, we are not talking about the most incorruptible people in the world. Tinseltown has had more than its share of sleaze since its inception. So the Academy’s steadfastness to objective quality is shaky at best. It won’t take much to turn its hand.

What will this mean? It means that studios will make it policy to overlook a number of “white” films each year in order to greenlight Oscar-worthy “black” ones, regardless of the quality of the scripts. It means that directors will be required to cast black actors in prominent Oscar-worthy roles, regardless of the quality of their auditions. Finally, it means there will be a new rule, unwritten or not, in the selection process for the Oscars: nominate at least one black and one other nonwhite in as many categories as possible, regardless of the quality of their work.

This takes us to the fourth and final Rule of POE: Always ignore the consequences of POE.

If the overall quality of Hollywood films depreciates even more thanks to POE, so what? Remember, POE is about e-quality, not quality.

Does this sound familiar? It should. It is essentially anti-white racial discrimination, otherwise known as affirmative action. As Steven Farron has shown in his excellent The Affirmative Action Hoax, affirmative action degrades any institution in which it appears by placing people with common abilities into positions where uncommon abilities are required. However, where the affirmative action Farron discusses stems mostly from the social engineering ambitions of the government and other influential elites, the changes that Mr. Williams and others are calling for comes from the people. A people willing to scream, shove, bully, and intimidate to get what it wants. That they are being every bit as racist and oppressive as those about whom they complain means little to them. That they intend to reduce the overall quality of our culture with their proposed changes, means even less. This is, essentially, how civilizations begin to die.

In one of the creepier moments in literature, Edgar Allan Poe’s narrator in his short story The Fall of the House of Usher notices the intricate decrepitude of the aforementioned house, which, from a distance seems structurally sound. The narrator notes the “wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones.” He also notices an ominous crack along the house, zigzagging from its rooftop down to its foundations and into a nearby lake.

Without even reading the story, we already know what’s going to happen with that crack. Poe tells us as much in the story’s title. The house of Usher is going to fall, both literally and figuratively, and that crack is going to become the fault line. And when the house does finally split in two, it’s going to be terrifying. POE is the modern equivalent of that crack, except that the house in which it now resides represents Western Civilization. It divides us and further weakens the structural foundations of our already decaying culture.

And, how exactly, is POE weakening us?

Well, on a superficial level, it would seem that POE abandons many of the classical ideals that made Western Civilization great to begin with, namely Truth (Rule One), Freedom (Rule Two), Democracy (Rule Three), and Beauty (Rule Four). To be sure, by presuming equality where there is none, POE is doing this. But to end our reasoning here would be naïve.

It would be naïve to think that this “problem” can be fixed by a simple attitude or policy adjustment. For example, Andrew Gruttadoro of Complex.com believes the solution lies in Hollywood studios’ being forced to offer more opportunities for minority players. In a similar vein, director Steven Spielberg believes that the Academy itself should open its membership up to greater diversity.

Both of these vague and well-meaning yet coercive approaches are naïve because they assume that (a) diversity is necessarily a good thing, and (b) black people don’t need POE to achieve it. All black Hollywood players need to do, according to Mr. Gruttadoro and Mr. Spielberg, is send more scripts to the studios and more applications to the Academy, and diversity will naturally increase over time.

But these approaches ignore how effective POE has been for black people. With all the success they have had in the past 50 years getting things simply by demanding them, why would they abandon POE? Why would they not insist that the Academy cave to their demands right away? These approaches also assume, quite risibly, that blacks (or, at least, today’s blacks, as led by today’s black elites) could somehow be moved by reason alone to abandon POE. And they will never do that.
(It’s actually quite amusing to imagine Spike Lee saying to Stephen Spielberg, “Well, Gosh, Mr. Spielberg, I think I will attend the Oscars after all. Your arguments are just so consistent.”)

More importantly, Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Gruttadoro miss the boat on the Oscars because they ignore the reason why blacks must presume themselves equal to whites to begin with. It is because they are not equal. This inequality is not merely social or economic, it is fundamentally genetic (J. Phillipe Rushton lays out this case in his classic Race, Evolution, and Behavior. More recently, Nicholas Wade argues this effectively in A Troublesome Inheritance). Blacks are simply less capable of making great art than whites, and so it stands to reason that they would less often be nominated for Academy Awards. They are also manifestly less capable than whites in all fields except for the three in which they possess the most genius: sports, music, and dance. This is why, when outside these fields, they cling to POE and ignore Truth, Beauty, and the like. Without POE, they have less than they have with it.

So, why should we care about the Oscars when POE has already infiltrated so many other, more important, institutions such as the university system, education, law enforcement, the military, and government? Because we have to start patching up that crack somewhere. Why not the Oscars? If they care so much about it, so should we. Except where they have four Rules of POE, we need only one:

Resist POE always and everywhere.

If blacks want credit for something, they should earn it. And if they can’t earn it, they should accept it like 99.99 percent of the rest of us who will never win Academy Awards. In either case, they should reject POE for the insidious sham that it is. Or one day they will find the house which they helped destroy falling in pieces all around them.

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