Joaquin Phoenix and Prince William both last night criticised the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) for not being ‘diverse’ enough.
But which of these two idiots should win the award for Most Fatuous Remark by a Celebrity Pillock at an Awards Ceremony No One Really Cares About Because It’s Just a Poor Man’s Oscars?
It’s a tricky one.
If the award is based on virtue-signalling hypocrisy then it should go to Joaquin Phoenix.
“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you are not welcome here,” said Phoenix. He said that the fact that no person of colour had been nominated in the four main categories was a sign of “systemic racism.”
OK, white privilege boy. Why then, did you still accept your totally unmerited award for Best Leading Actor in The Joker?
Surely, the right, the only decent thing to have done would have been to trawl your memory bank for all the incredible, knock-out movies you’ve seen in the last year with stand-out performances by black male leads – then hand your award to one of them, instead?
Or did you, maybe, not see any such movies?
Very proud of all these actors calling out the lack of diversity at award shows. I bet if they’d have known the nominations in advance they wouldn’t have even turned up in the hope of winning themselves.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) February 3, 2020
But if, on the other hand, the award is for glib, canting, thick as pigshit idiocy by a really not that bright heir to the throne then I’d say the prize should go to Prince William.
Let’s pause briefly to relish the weapons-grade moronitude which poured forth from his privileged gob:
“In 2020 and not for the first time in the last few years we find ourselves talking again about the need to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process. That simply cannot be right.”
The BAFTAs is – or used to be – an awards ceremony for artistic excellence in the film and television industry.
As soon as you start introducing diversity quotas, it loses its raison d’être. No longer is it a prize ceremony celebrating the year’s best shows and performances. It’s just yet another “all shall have prizes” guilt fest designed to make rich luvvies feel better about themselves by patronising people who aren’t white.
In fact this has already started happening, much to the BAFTAs’ detriment.
Last year, the BAFTAs introduced a Diversity and Inclusion clause.
In 2019 we became (to our knowledge) the first major awards body to introduce diversity and inclusion criteria into the eligibility requirements for our awards. Working closely with the BFI we used their BFI Diversity Standards to the eligibility criteria for the Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer categories from 2019. This significant change demonstrates BAFTA’s intention to take a leading role, together with our key partners, in driving a more inclusive industry.
In order to meet the standards, productions need to demonstrate that they have worked to increase the representation of under-represented groups in two of the four following areas:
• On screen representation, themes and narratives
• Project leadership and creative practitioners
• Industry access and opportunities
• Opportunities for diversity in audience development.
So it’s already the case that if you want to be eligible for a BAFTA you have to shoehorn some diversity into your production whether it’s appropriate or not.
I wonder whether this has anything to do with some of the odd choices made by Sam Mendes for his film 1917, which won the BAFTA for Best Film.
First, there was that forced and somewhat implausible moment with the Sikh cavalryman in the back of a lorry with English Tommies. (This is the one that got actor Laurence Fox quite unfairly into trouble – even though his point was a perfectly reasonable one).
But even more obtrusive, in my view, were the various black faces that mysteriously popped up among the 4th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment as they prepared to go over the top in the final scene.
Black combatants in English country regiments during World War I were rarer than hen’s teeth. (Yes, yes I’ve heard of mixed-race footballer Walter Tull. But he was very much the exception not the rule.)
Anyone with the remotest feel for the period – clue: the kind of people who want to go to see a film about World War I in the first place – would have been brought up short by this gratuitous display of tick-box quota casting.
For a film that strives to recreate the horror of trench warfare accurately, this is a terrible own goal because it completely undercuts its attempts at verisimilitude.
And let’s be clear, they’re not being racist for noticing these details. With film and TV, noticing detail is the whole point. If it’s a thriller, you’re scrutinising everything anyone says or does for clues. If it’s sci fi, you’re assessing the look, the gadgets, the technologies to answer your own question: “Do I buy this vision of the future?” If it’s Downton Abbey, you’re wondering every few seconds—”Was that word really in usage as early as 1920?” “Could the chauffeur really have been so familiar with the daughter of an Earl?” —and so on. The idea that these critical faculties are suddenly going to be suspended when a black character—or a woman or whoever—gets shoehorned into a role they could never have conceivably had in the era being depicted is the kind of fatuous delusion only an empty-headed Social Justice Warrior could seriously nurture.
Prince William was, I dare say, put up to his stupid comment by BAFTA itself. BAFTA, like so many institutions, has fallen into the hands of senior management — in this case, some woman called Amanda Berry — who are more interested in playing identity politics than they are in doing their proper job.
But what he clearly doesn’t appreciate — either because he’s ill-advised or because he’s a bit dim — that by making these remarks he is treading in some incredibly fraught and contentious political territory.
Most of Prince William’s future subjects, I can guarantee, are absolutely sick to death of the diversity agenda. They hate the way that all you ever see on TV adverts now are mixed-race or black families; they find it nigglingly annoying the way every series you watch on TV now has to have BAME (i.e. diverse) actors forced into the most unlikely settings.
Sure all this ‘diversity’ (and ‘equality’) nonsense may make sense to the narrow, metropolitan media elite. But to normal people they remain anathema, not because of ‘racism’ — we all loved Top Boy, for example, where the main characters are all black — but simply because it’s hectoring, jarring, insincere, formulaic, unrealistic, relentless, stupid and fake.