The Oscars are almost here, and your annual Oscar party is near at hand. You’ve got your fresh outfit, hors d’oeuvres, and cans of champagne. You even sent out paper invites to your friends. It’s a tradition you dive into with abandon, tweeting about the dresses on the red carpet, the overlong acceptance speeches, and how this year’s host has nothing on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s combined might.
But this year is different. Maybe you saw Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s outrage at the 20 white acting nominees without a person of color in sight. Maybe you were outraged with them. #OscarsSoWhite struck a chord with you, and you’ve thought deeply about how hard anyone who isn’t a white cis man has it in Hollywood.
This year is different
Not everyone is going to boycott the awards on Sunday night. But if your aim is to make a statement about the value of an award show that, as part of a much larger industry, has an intrinsic bias against the work of non-white people, there are a few things you can do instead:
During the Oscars broadcast, Hannibal Burress will host a free benefit called #JUSTICEFORFLINT. Mounted by director Ryan Coogler’s activist group Blackout for Human Rights, the event will raise awareness and money for the people affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Outspoken figures like Ava DuVernay and Janelle Monae will attend.
It’s worth noting that Coogler’s critically beloved film Creed was snubbed by the Oscars this year, though Sylvester Stallone earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. However, in an interview with BuzzFeed News, Coogler said the event only takes place at the same time as the Oscars by coincidence. Rather, it was designed to fall on the last weekend of Black History Month. The show will be livestreamed on revolt.tv.
Live-tweet The Wood
#OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign announced via Twitter that she’ll be live-tweeting Rick Famuyiwa’s 1999 film The Wood during Sunday’s broadcast. If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s a romantic comedy that follows a group of friends reminiscing about their growing up together ahead of a wedding.
Reign tweeted that the point is to get people of all background to engage with quality filmmaking. She did the same last year with Coming to America for the same reasons:
That's the point of #OscarsSoWhite: if a quality film is made, ALL people will go see it & enjoy it. We need more inclusive films like that.— April (@ReignOfApril) February 21, 2016
Reign, however, does stress that watching The Wood isn’t the only way to make a statement. "Don’t reward the Oscars telecast with your viewership," she says, if you’re frustrated by the lack of stories that don’t represent you on the big screen.
Watch the films that got snubbed
Creed. Straight Outta Compton. Beasts of No Nation. These are some of the most notable movies that the Academy ignored this year for top honors, even though they all have the earmarks of prestige work. Creed and Straight Outta Compton both tell the kind of "rise to glory" stories that the Oscars cherish, while Beasts features a gripping performance from Idris Elba that was lauded throughout awards season. Yet none are up for best picture. Creed’s biggest nomination went to Sylvester Stallone, who earned a nomination for the same role in 1977. Straight Outta Compton's white screenwriting team got a nod for best original screenplay.
Sunday’s as good a time as any to enjoy these films. Beasts is on Netflix, and Straight Outta Compton is available for rent on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. You’ll need to buy Creed, but it’s well worth it.
Catch up on great television
If you had every intention of just watching The Walking Dead, that’s fine. Do you. But for those of us who gave up long ago, there’s still a lot of great TV worth watching. Shows like Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, Transparent, Empire, Black-ish, and the new series Superstore put people of color and LGBT in the foreground, and tell rich, enthralling stories that keep fans coming back every week.
Ultimately, there’s a great deal you can do on Sunday night other than watch the same old Oscars. Maybe a "Boycott the Oscars" party is in order.