Oscars Still So White | Crooked Media
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March 12, 2023
What A Day
Oscars Still So White

In This Episode

  • Silicon Valley Bank abruptly shut down on Friday, in what was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history. The bank serviced many startups and other tech companies, and the federal government is now taking steps to protect its deposits, and stop a potential financial crisis.
  • The 95th Academy Awards were held Sunday night, though the ceremony has been criticized over its lack of diversity. April Reign, the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, joins us to discuss whether the conversations it started made a difference this year.
  • And in headlines: massive protests continue in Israel over a plan to overhaul the country’s Supreme Court, the BBC is facing severe backlash after suspending one of its top sports pundits, and the so-called “winners” of the 43rd annual Razzie Awards were announced.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, March 13th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day where we are feverishly putting together our March Madness brackets. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now, which sport is this again? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, so this is basketball. College basketball. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm. Space Jam. I’ve heard of it. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Space Jam. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. Space jam-ish. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, former Vice President Mike Pence had some strong words for Donald Trump. Plus, even the worst films of the year got some time in the limelight this weekend. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, on Friday, Silicon Valley Bank shut down after a historic bank run in what was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history. The bank serviced many startups and other tech companies. And the shutdown threatened the money its customers had deposited. But then on Sunday, the Biden administration announced that depositors would have all their money protected in what the Washington Post called a, quote, “extraordinary intervention aimed at averting a crisis in the financial markets.” 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so tell us what happened. Why did the bank shut down and what in the world is a bank run? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th biggest bank in America, and it had a heavy tech field customer base in part because of some incentives that the bank had. If you were in tech to bank with them, right? But then due to increasing interest rates, increased withdrawals, and the bank’s choice to invest in long term fixed income securities, the bank was suddenly at risk of losing money, which meant lots of people withdrawing money in a frenzy on Thursday and Friday, which led to more people withdrawing money which led to the virtual immediate collapse of the bank. But this kind of people withdrawing everything at once, leading to the collapse of something that’s what we call a bank run. Now, for most customers, that was going to result in a loss of money because the FDIC only insures deposits up to $250,000. So, you know, for me, that’s enough. I don’t got $250,000 anywhere. But if you’re a startup that had, say, a million or 10 million at Silicon Valley Bank, you’re at risk of losing a major, major chunk of money. And at Silicon Valley Bank, 85% of deposits were uninsured, which is a huge number. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: So there was a lot of panic in Silicon Valley this weekend. And then on Sunday, regulators announced that another bank, Signature bank based in New York had also failed, which was the third largest bank failure in U.S. history. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. A lot of bank failures over the last few days. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Doesn’t sound good. So– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: No. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What now? You said that the administration ensured that all deposits were protected. What exactly does that mean? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: On Sunday, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the FDIC announced that all depositors would have access to their money on Monday by taking advantage of an FDIC exception that, according to The New York Times, allows the FDIC to, quote, “incur additional costs if there is a risk to the financial system involved.” Regulators said, quote, “No losses associated with the resolution of Silicon Valley Bank will be borne by the taxpayer.” And they said these actions were not a bailout because also, according to the Times, the company shareholders and those who own its debt would be wiped out. So it wasn’t technically a bailout because someone was like paying the price who wasn’t a taxpayer. Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And so given kind of like the potential freak out and ripple effect from finance and tech industries, it does seem reasonable for the government to be concerned about the impact this would have on the economy more broadly. And to be clear, the people who would suffer from the shutdown of the bank wouldn’t just be like tech bros and CEOs, but also regular people on payroll. They couldn’t get paid anymore, etc. so concern and to some extent, risk mitigation certainly seems warranted. But that being said, lots of people are understandably frustrated right now, and they’re frustrated that tech, which has fought regulation repeatedly, is now benefiting from what seems like functionally a bailout. Right. The government is saying, don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. And they’re doing that because tech is seen as a valuable industry. Right. And they don’t want to pay the price of tech suffering this loss. Sure bailout is not what regulators are calling it. And technically it’s not a bailout, but the vibe is still there. The bailout vibe is still there. It’s companies risking their money to bank at a place that gave them benefits for that risk. And then that risk is not even really a risk, because if it fails, they are made whole. Right. You know, unchecked capitalism means risk. And it seems like the people advocating for unchecked capitalism and tech, when it’s working for them, they like government bailouts, i.e. socialism, when it’s not working for them. Right. And so there is this sense of hypocrisy and frustration over this anti-regulatory industry that really likes regulation when it benefits them. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Anyway, we’ll keep following the story. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Woo. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But for now. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On to another one. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I got you. That’s what I’m here for. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I can’t wait. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Um. I’ve got a story for you out of Hollywood. Okay. Last night was the 95th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. As we all know, the Oscars basically cap off awards season. So many of us are very happy for this moment. I’ll give you just a few of my personal highlights from the show as we go to record Sunday night. First and foremost, Angela Bassett did not indeed do the thing. Unfortunately, by which I mean she did not win her long overdue Oscar for– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Boo! 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –Best Supporting Actress. We were hoping that she would nab that for Black Panther two. I almost turned the TV off, but, you know, I decided not to. That award instead went to Jamie Lee Curtis of Everything Everywhere, All At Once. Her costar Ke Huy Qwan won the supporting actor Oscar. Gave a wonderful emotional speech about how he was about to quit the industry and how winning this Oscar is like the American dream. We love that for him. But leading into the ceremony, especially once the nominations came out, there was and continues to be a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion of the nominees, of the Academy membership itself. And I’m sure by now everyone’s read the Entertainment Weekly anonymous Oscar ballot piece in which a voter had this to say about the Woman King, quote, “Viola Davis and the lady director need to sit down, shut up and relax. You didn’t get a nomination. A lot of movies don’t get nominations.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I have to say, this made me feel internally violent reading this quote. It is so offensive. It is so typical, this idea of telling anybody, anybody to sit down, shut up and relax, but especially Black women, especially Viola Davis. Like, I’m very glad this is anonymous because I would be maybe perhaps trolling this man. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. If y’all haven’t read it, we’ll include a link to it in our show notes. Super absurd. By the way, that Lady director’s name is Gina Prince-Bythewood. She’s legendary and iconic. Put some respect on her name, please. And thank you. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Hundred percent. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That all aside, though, all of this current moment can be traced back to Twitter and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite back in 2015, when all 20 of the acting noms announced were white. April Reign tweeted, quote, “Oscars so white they asked to touch my hair” and then a movement was born. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I have to say like, it feels crazy this was eight years ago because it was such a major moment for Black people interested in like the Oscars, interested in awards season. Like, I remember what April tweeted that and how everybody kind of coalesced around this moment of recognizing that there is an industry that just ignored major parts of the field. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And then it spawned right, all these other hashtags for other communities, right? Um. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yup. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In terms of the lack of diversity of them as well. So in the years since, the Film Academy itself has made inroads to diversify its membership and the broader industry has verbalized ongoing commitments to do and be better. But so many questions still remain, especially in light of a new study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which reviewed the demographics of Oscar nominees in the eight years before and the eight years since #OscarsSoWhite. I want to talk a bit about this study and ongoing conversations around diversity at the Oscars. So I called up the creator of the hashtag herself April Reign. I started by asking her to share her initial reaction to this year’s nominees. 

 

April Reign: Disappointing, but not surprising, which has really been my answer since I created #OscarsSoWhite in 2015. We heard for years, especially early on, that, well, Black people and people of color and marginalized people aren’t getting nominated because the roles just aren’t there. And that is clearly not the case. It has never been the case, but it was clearly not the case with respect to the films that came out in 2022. You think about films like Till, films like Nope. Films like The Woman King, all of which didn’t get their just due. And these are films that made a lot of money in some cases that had a lot of critical acclaim. And so one has to ask the question, what does it take to get a nomination these days? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is a really great question. So there’s this new study from the University of Southern California that found that diversity in the Oscars has improved some since you created #OscarsSoWhite. For example, the amount of Oscar nominees who were from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds increased by nearly 10% since then. But the consensus, right, is that the nominees for Hollywood’s highest award are still overwhelmingly white and male. Did you think we’d see better gains in all these years? Did you imagine that things would be further along at this point? 

 

April Reign: No. [laughter] I knew that the commitments were the same way that I commit to taking my child to Chuck E. Cheese, even though we’re going home for meatloaf. Right? So. [laughter] You know, I mean, what we’ve seen from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the folks who run the Oscars, is what I like to call window dressing on a condemned house. You know, they put out this press release and it sounds beautiful and, oh, my goodness, there’s going to be so much change. And it’s a brand new day. And it’s not. You know, once you read the fine print, you realize that they aren’t going far enough. Even though they could. And that’s the frustration now. So back in 2016, when Cheryl Boone Isaacs was still president of the Academy, they committed to doubling the number of people of color and doubling the number of women by the year 2020. And they did that. And so part of the Annenberg Report reflects that increase. But what we know is that the demographics of the Academy voting members still fall short of the demographics of this country. And I think that should be the goal. You know, what we know is that the largest growing, the fastest growing demographic of moviegoers is the Latino, Latina community. And yet, you know, Black folks think they have it bad in entertainment. The Latinx community has it even worse. And so, you know, the Academy has announced, I think it’s for films that come out in 2024, but maybe nominated for 2025. Then there’s yet another all important change that they’re putting out with respect to the best picture category specifically. And there are four rubrics that need to, two of the four need to be met for a movie to be nominated. And yet the loophole with that new initiative is so huge that you can drive a truck through it. If we can say that a film like Gone With the Wind, which didn’t, [laugh] to say the least, represent Black folks in a positive light, can still be nominated under the new rules. Then what changes have they really made? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You know, there’s a lot of folks who like to write things off and say that, you know, filmmakers of color and other marginalized identities, that we should stop looking to the Oscars for, quote unquote, “validation”. I’d love to hear your response to that, because I think it’s a good one, considering. 

 

April Reign: I think the answer to that is yes and. You know, we shouldn’t be looking to anyone outside of ourselves for validation for the things that we put out in the world. And I believe that most filmmakers, actors, actresses, directors, everybody, don’t. They they’re not in it for the awards at the end of the season. They want to put good work out there. What we also know is that the Academy is considered the pinnacle in movies. And so regardless of whether you are a fry cook at McDonald’s or you are an A-list actress or you’re working for a Fortune 500 company, you want to be validated at the highest possible level. And that’s what the academy is. I believe in meritocracy, and we know that the voting membership is not using meritocracy when they are submitting their ballots. And we know that because the Academy does not require academy voters to view the films before they vote. So if people are saying things like, you know, I couldn’t pronounce Lupita Nyong’o, so I didn’t vote for her, or my best friend is the director of this film, so I voted for him or he’s getting older and I’m not sure how many more times he’s going to get nominated. And this clearly wasn’t his best work. But, you know, let’s go ahead and give it to him anyway. None of those are meritorious reasons. Until the Academy changes that, we really are going to see more of the same. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That was April Reign, media consultant and creator of #OscarsSoWhite. [music break] Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in a federal court case that could stop access to a FDA approved abortion drug. But according to a report from The Washington Post, the judge hearing the case has apparently chosen to keep the exact timing of the hearing off the public docket until late Tuesday. Sources told The Post that Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk said the decision to delay was intended to, quote, “minimize disruptions and possible protests.” Such a move is highly unusual for federal cases. As we’ve told you before on the show, reproductive rights advocates are worried that Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, will likely side with abortion opponents to revoke the FDA’s 23 year old approval for mifepristone, which is used in about half of all medication abortions around the country. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Former Vice President Mike Pence had some strong-ish words for Donald Trump this weekend. Speaking at a white tie dinner in Washington Saturday night, Pence blasted the former president for pressuring him to block the certification of the 2020 election results, telling the attendees, quote, “President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.” That might be stating the obvious for most of us, but for a guy who might find mayonnaise a little too spicy, it was a pretty hot take for him. Pence went on to say he will support whoever becomes the Republican nominee in 2024 and hinted that he’s considering a presidential bid himself. I do love him saying Donald Trump put my family at risk. History will judge him. And also, if he is the Republican nominee, he’s got my support. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Like, come on now. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right like come on, sweetie. Not my sweetie. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Israel may have seen one of its largest demonstrations ever, with as many as half a million people crowding streets across that country over the weekend. They’re protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the country’s Supreme Court. And as we’ve mentioned before, Netanyahu’s far right coalition is trying to pass legislation that would allow a simple majority of lawmakers to overturn decisions from Israel’s highest court. Critics say that would allow whichever party is in power to operate without checks and balances. Separately, Israeli military forces shot and killed three Palestinians yesterday who allegedly opened fire on troops in the occupied West Bank. The region has endured some of the worst violence it has experienced in years, raising concerns it could trigger another Palestinian uprising. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The BBC is facing severe backlash amid a heated debate over its guidelines of impartiality. It all started last week when one of its top sports pundits, Gary Lineker, criticized a government proposal that would stop asylum seekers from entering the UK if they crossed the English Channel by boat. Lineker compared it to Nazi Germany, which quickly led to his suspension on Friday, right before the weekend’s soccer coverage. Other TV hosts and commentators staged a major walkout in protest, forcing the corporation to abbreviate its weekend sports programming because no one would go on the air. Critics say the BBC’s guidelines for its on air talent to avoid politics is hypocritical because its chairman, Richard Sharp, may have acted as a go between to help former Prime minister Boris Johnson secure a large loan. Our thoughts are with the legions of BBC producers who were forced to keep calm and carry on. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And it wouldn’t be awards season without mentioning the worst that Hollywood has to offer. The so-called winners of the 43rd annual Razzie Awards were announced Saturday. Three films earned the dubious honor of picking up multiple worst of awards, including the Netflix biopic Blond, Morbius and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Blond took home the worst movie statue, along with a separate recognition for worst screenplay. Even though its star, Ana de Armas, picked up a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the late Marilyn Monroe. And Razzie’s organizers served up some humble pie for themselves. They gave themselves the Worst Actress award this year after they were panned for nominating 12 year old Ryan Kiera Armstrong in that category. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Do you think you’re more likely to win an Oscar or a Razzie? I’m definitely more likely to win a Razzie. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Y’all know where I’m going. Give me the golden statue. Give me the the one with the little man on it. Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Why not? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You should win an Oscar today, first of all. And don’t forget who to thank when you go up there. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Josie Duffy Rice is the first person I’m going to thank. The legendary, the iconic Josie Duffy Rice.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh. Thank you. I consider that a promise. I will be writing up a contract and I can’t wait to be cheering you on. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to tell you who bumped Miley Cyrus from the top spot on iTunes. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You will never guess the answer. [music break] [AD BREAK] 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, WAD squad and we’re going to dive headfirst into this work week with a little segment we call Bad Sound. Take a listen to today’s clip:

 

[clip of Justice For All by the J6 Prison Choir] Indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Oh no I’m sorry. 

 

[clip of Justice For All by the J6 Prison Choir] O’er the land of the free.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: [laughing]

 

[clip of Justice For All by the J6 Prison Choir] And the home of the brave. USA! USA! USA! 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm mm.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I was like, nice harmony, before we got to the USA. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The USA definitely takes it into a different direction. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It does. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What you all just heard there was the number one song on iTunes. Okay. It’s called Justice for All, a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner performed by the J6 Prison Choir. The group is made up of individuals who are currently serving prison time for their involvement in the January 6th insurrection. Yes, you heard that right. You also heard Donald Trump’s voice there. According to Variety, the former president agreed to collaborate on the track to drop a hot 16 to show his support for his loving, incarcerated fans. Though he recorded his portion from the comfort of his Mar-a-Lago estate and not, unfortunately, from the inside of a prison cell as well. Josie, I’ve got to know what are your thoughts on this? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Love the idea of a prison choir. You know me. Anti prison criminal justice reform. This is my thing. In theory I love this. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: In practice. [laughter] It’s not my favorite because it’s really testing my dedication to the idea of a prison choir. And on one hand, I’m like, how is this number one on iTunes? On the other hand, I’m like, who’s buying music on iTunes really? Boomers, who watch Fox News. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Like, when’s the last time you bought a song on iTunes? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, actually, I bought a song off of iTunes recently, but it was Beyonce because, you know, you got to, you got to get Beyonce– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah that’s different. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –her money.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That’s different. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You can’t just stream Beyonce. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes, yes, that’s different. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But I will say the January 6th Insurrection Choir, uh the J6 Prison Choir, as they’re called. You know, I’ve heard some great prison choirs in my day, um I have to say. And this is not one of them. Um. You all should check out the Fighting Temptations if you would like to see some wonderful incarcerated folks sing very well. It’s a movie and it’s fake, but they sound better than these folks. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But honestly, like everything with the January 6th situation, I’m like, Oh, I expected you to be worse. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s like that painter who paints all the paintings of Donald Trump surrounded by, like, Lincoln they’re like, really hideous. But you’re like, simply by being someone who would paint paintings of Donald Trump I thought you’d be worse. So it’s not good, but it’s better than I expected, which is what I would describe any art from this community. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Any art from this community. And that was bad sound. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Don’t buy the latest prison choir hit from iTunes and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just FDIC regulations like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And get it together Hollywood Academy. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we’re tired of you playing games, okay? In Angela Bassett’s face.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Stop playing games. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You did it for What’s Love Got To Do With It. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You did. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And now you’ve done it again for Black Panther. We’re done with you all. [music break]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

[AD BREAK]