Controversy was stirred up during last Sunday’s Oscar’s when Green Book took home the Academy Award for best picture. The story of two misfits, Tony Lip, an Italian bouncer, and Don Shirley, a black concert pianist, riding through the deep south in the Jim Crow era had been facing backlash for some time for its accuracy and depiction of racism.
At face value Green Book is actually a good movie. It’s well-written, funny, and heartwarming. It has all the aspects you expect from a best picture, but its depiction of social issues is incredibly flawed.
When a film like Green Book chooses to address something as sensitive and convoluted as racial relations it has a responsibility greater than being funny and heartwarming.
Green Book follows a sort of racial odd couple archetype that has been present in Hollywood for decades. A bigoted white person meets a charismatic black person, spends time with them, and essentially decides to stop being racist. It's a fictitious and elementary depiction of an incredibly complex issue.
Further adding to the backlash was that Green Book found itself in a very similar position Driving Miss Daisy, which is nearly identical to Green Book, was in 30 years ago. It was up against a Spike Lee film that pulled absolutely no punches when addressing race in America.
In 1990’s Driving Miss Daisy, a film which included two people, one a bigoted white person and one a charming black person, riding around in a car magically solving racism won best picture. Meanwhile, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, a film about racial tension and gentrification reaching a breaking point, went unawarded.
So, here we are in 2019. BlacKkKlansman, a Spike Lee film about Ron Stallworth, the first black officer ever in the Colorado Springs Police Department, going undercover in the KKK and combating racism, was up against Green Book. As you may have guessed, BlacKkKlansman did not win.
The problem seems to be the academy and the population at large rarely have interest in a film about real racial issues. The racists in BlacKkKlansman don’t hop in a Cadillac DeVille with Ron Stallworth and say, “Hey you know what, I think I’m done being a horrible racist.” The racists in this film try to kill and harm innocent black people and at the end of it all nothing is really resolved, the same problems keep on persisting because that's what racism is in the real world.
That's the way the Academy doesn’t care to see racism addressed. They'd rather see it in the light-hearted fairy tale manner Green Book offers it up.
Green Book, which as I said is honestly a decent movie on the surface, didn’t deserve this. If Beale Street Could Talk and BlacKkKlansman were both films with black characters at the center that addressed race and other issues in an honest way. Black Panther was a film created by black writers and directors with a nearly all black cast that smashed box office records. Vice, A Star is Born, and Roma were all equally, if not more impressive movies that were much less problematic. Even Bohemian Rhapsody, which had its own issues, was a smarter choice than Green Book.
Green Book is an enjoyable movie, but being an academy award winner for best picture is about more than just being enjoyable. It’s about being revolutionary, culturally important, and memorable and Green Book is just none of those things.
Noah Wright is an undecided sophomore studying at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Tweet him @NoahCampaign.