What We're Reading: How the Oscars and Grammys thrive on the lie of meritocracy
"I didn’t see it coming, but maybe I should have," said Salamisha Tillet for the New York Times. "That refrain has been popping into my head repeatedly since learning that neither Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) nor Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) was nominated for the best actress Oscar and that Andrea Riseborough and Ana de Armas had emerged as this year’s spoilers."
"It came to mind again Sunday night when the Grammys awarded Harry Styles’ 'Harry’s House' album of the year, not Beyoncé’s 'Renaissance.' Although she made history that night as the most Grammy-winning artist of all time, this was Beyoncé’s fourth shutout from the industry’s most coveted category and another stark reminder that the last Black woman to take home that award was Lauryn Hill — 24 years ago. This time the message was loud and clear: Beyoncé, one of the most prolific and transformative artists of the 21st century, can win only in niche categories. Her music — a continually evolving and genre-defying sound — still can’t be seen as the standard-bearer for the universal."
"The music and movie industries differ in many ways, but their prizes are similarly determined by the predominantly older white male members of the movie and recording academies. Although both organizations have made concerted efforts in recent years to diversify their voting bodies in terms of age, race and gender, Black women artists, despite their ingenuity, influence and, in Beyoncé’s case, unparalleled innovation, continue to be denied their highest honors."
"This trend is no indication of the quality of their work but rather a reflection of something else: the false myth of meritocracy upon which these institutions, their ceremonies and their gatekeepers thrive."
It’s been over 20 years since Halle Berry won the best actress Oscar for her 'Monster’s Ball' performance as a Black mother who grieves the loss of her son through alcohol and sex. The fact that she remains the only Black woman to have won this award is ridiculous. 'I do feel completely heartbroken that there’s no other woman standing next to me in 20 years,' Berry reflected in the run-up to the Oscars last year. 'I thought, like everybody else, that night meant a lot of things would change.'"
"The difference between then and now is that there are far more Black women directors and complex Black women characters on the big screen than ever before. Maybe, next year, the academy members will get behind one of those actors. Then again, maybe I should know better."