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Hollywood has definitely had to contend with a variety of controversial "-isms" over the years. These topics run the gamut from ageism, to sexism, and (you guessed it) racism. Race became a particularly noteworthy topic last year when the protest hashtag "#OscarsSoWhite" became a hot button issue -- due to the decidedly monochromatic (a.k.a white) Oscar nominees. That being said, Lee Daniels -- a notable black filmmaker himself -- doesn't seem entirely on-board with the protest. Daniels said:
Go out and do the work. Oscars so white! So what? Do your work. Let your legacy speak and stop complaining, man. Are we really in this for the awards? If I had thought that way --- that the world was against me --- I wouldn't be here now. These whiny people that think we're owed something are incomprehensible and reprehensible to me. I don't expect acknowledgment or acceptance from white America. I'm going to be me.
Lee Daniels' comments to The New York Times definitely portray him as a man unconcerned with recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. While many have called for systemic changes to the way in which annual filmmaking accolades are dolled out, the Empire producer seems to think that the opposite approach is more productive -- focus on the work, and let the films you make define your career.
It's worth acknowledging that Lee Daniels' opinion comes from the position of a man who has actually been to the Oscars before. He received two nominations in 2010 for Precious: Best Director, as well as Best Picture. Although he ultimately lost both of those awards to Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, he apparently remains firm in his filmmaking ideology. The film comes first, and the awards come second.
Of course, regardless of Lee Daniels' own opinions on the matter, the fact remains that other corners of Hollywood have very different takes on the issue. A number of celebrities boycotted last year's Academy Awards ceremony, and The Academy itself has become somewhat more vocal in its renewed effort to try and create a more diverse voting pool for The Oscars. In the eyes of these high-profile Hollywood personalties it's not as simple as focusing on one's own legacy.
At the end of the day there really is no clear-cut answer to this particular debate. Lee Daniels thinks that an artist should focus on his or her work above all else, while others in Hollywood think certain logistical changes need to be made in order to level the playing field for artists of all colors and gender identities. Neither one of these approaches is inherently better than the other, but we will definitely see how this situation pans out as the 2017 Oscars ceremony draws near.
We will bring you all of the latest and greatest information associated with The Academy Awards as more details are made available to us. The 2017 Oscars ceremony will air on Sunday, February 26 at 8:30 p.m. EST.