If I were writing a book about my life, I would definitely have a chapter about growing up in movie theatres. I loved going to the movies and I remember there was a period in past times when tickets were just ten cents. Even after all these years, I feel one of the best sources of entertainment is watching a really terrific movie.

These days I attend less movies because my tastes are more discriminating and movie choices frequently pander to much younger, unsophisticated audiences. Within a short time after premieres, movies become available on TV but it still feels like magic to sit in the dark in a large movie house and experience the filmed dramas among an audience with equally captured imaginations.

Like movies, times have changed enabling this latest controversy aimed at the Academy Awards ceremony to once again spew the accusation of racial inequality. This, in spite of the many Oscars won by black performers over the last several years. Director Spike Lee, mediocre actress Jada Pinkett Smith and a few other black performers have decided to boycott the award show because of this year’s failure to nominate blacks. Disregarding the fact that nominees were chosen because of outstanding expertise in their categories, the disgruntled African Americans appear to want to see black nominees on a quota basis. In easy to understand English, they want race to trump superior performance just so the scales are equall between races. The better work must be ignored to allow these sour grapes black attitudes to be assuaged.

This unreasonable pouting demands that if you choose a white candidate you must automatically choose a black one to balance the racial quota. Forget the small detail that the voters this year found that no blacks excelled to the highest standards of exceptional acting, or at least just not as good as the actors nominated. In these changing times, a black must be chosen so that blacks don’t feel discriminated against or simply left out like the only kid on the block not invited to a birthday party.

Jada Pinkett Smith is hoping that the boycotting will inevitably hurt the pocketbooks of the industry and will ensure that blacks are always chosen no matter their standard of performance. Does she ignorantly believe that the thirteen percent of black people in this country are the ones who shell out enough money to keep movies theatres alive? If so, she is woefully misinformed. She fails to realize that it has largely been white money and influence that has catapulted actors like her husband and other black performers into the successful positions that now enjoy. She fails to compute that boycotting works both ways. Also, she may have destroyed her husband’s chances of ever being awarded an Oscar without people wondering if it was his talent or a quota gift obligation. Pinkett is a mediocrity who has been able to circulate among the better actors and actresses because of the tremendous success of her much more talented husband.

There are those in the black community that thought the movie, “Straight Outa Compton” should have been nominated for an Oscar. Lacking insight, they fail to fathom that the larger white population in the U.S. doesn’t need to spend the hefty price of a movie ticket to view black troubles, failures or violence. All they have to do is turn on the nightly news or read the daily papers in the comfort of their homes. No one needs to sit in a movie theatre to be subjected to the hard truth of black people behaving badly.

Personally, I don’t support the over abundance of inane, disgusting or profanity-laced pieces of nonsense starring white performers either. Today, there is nothing as rampant or prevalent in film as poor taste. If there was ever a valid indicator of society sliding backward it is the trash that Hollywood turns out that is marketed as current day comedies. Today’s audiences mistake buffoonery for acting and foul gags and language as quality story telling. It’s difficult to decide what is dumb or dumber, the movies being produced or the audiences paying to see them. To add to this progression of amusement idiocy and the “cry wolf” trend of racism, entertainment is on track to become another victim of the quota system.

Use your power of the purse, don’t go.

Janet O’Neill

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