From #OscarsSoWhite to #GrammySoWhite


Vanessa Obioha

To say that Beyonce fans were stunned by the outcome of the 2017 Grammys last Sunday at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles is an understatement. They were clearly gobsmacked. No one anticipated that the award-winning artiste who dominated the Grammys with nine nominations will leave with just two awards (Best Music Video and Best Urban Contemporary Album). Beyonce failed to win in any of the major categories, that is, the ‘Album of the Year’, ‘Record of the Year’,’ Song of the Year’. Adele, the British pop singer clinched the awards in these categories, setting a record in Grammys as the only artiste who has won all three categories twice. Also, she continued in her winning streak by winning every category that she was nominated.

These series of wins by a supposedly white woman sparked another racial backlash on the Recording Academy, the organisation responsible for the Grammys. The protesters’ anger stemmed from Beyonce’s inability to clinch the ‘Album of the Year’ award which she had lost three times; first to Beck, then to Taylor Swift and now, Adele. It is generally believed that The Recording Academy deliberately rewards the white race with the major awards. The last black artiste to win the ‘Album of the Year’ was Herbie Hancock in 2008. Although, Beyonce had won 22 times in the Grammys, she would have made history with her ‘Lemonade’ album if she had won in the major categories this year.

While accepting the award, Adele declared that she didn’t deserve the it. She said the award should have gone to Beyonce because Lemonade was more than an album.

Racial commentaries on the Grammys have been in muted tones in the past. Only few artistes like Kanye West spoke boldly about the wide chasm between the whites and the blacks in the music award. He had continuously argued that Beyonce was robbed in the Grammys. Then, Kanye was hardly taken seriously due to his controversial mien. Last year, Frank Ocean’s decision not to submit his work for this year’s awards raised some dust, but it was quickly swept away. Both artistes didn’t show up at the event. It took Beyonce’s loss on Sunday to get the Black race to finally speak out.

To be sure, Beyonce is not the only black artiste who has been snubbed by the Grammys. Queen of Soul music, Aretha Franklin despite winning the Grammy 11 times, never won the ‘Album of the Year’.
In his defence, Neil Portnow, the President of the Recording Academy argued that the Grammys is in no way racial. He said that the Grammy is a peer-voted award and not a corporate entity.

“We don’t as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. Which is what our 14, 000 voters did. It’s a democratic vote by majority….At the end of the day we just went through a popular election, but you had the overlay of an electoral college. And so the popular vote doesn’t necessarily, in and of itself create the recipient of the election.”
He however said that the organisation is working on increasing its diversity just like the Motion Picture Academy did last year after the #OscarsSoWhite campaign.

With this new development, critics argue that the Grammys may suffer a boycott if it fails to adjust its voting parameters to reflect more black winners in the major categories. Chance The Rapper was the only black artiste who won in the general genre category (Best New Artiste).

Fate seemed to give Mel Gibson a new lease. Recently, Warner Bros initiated a meeting with the Oscar-nominated ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ director, for a possibility to direct the sequel to its super villain story, ‘Suicide Squad’. Director David Ayer directed the first outing. It is a turnaround for Gibson whose image suffered a setback after his drunk driving arrest in the 2000s. Since his recent flick got nominated in the Oscars, Gibson found himself offered a slew of jobs. Before Warner Bros approached him, Paramount invited him to join Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in ‘Daddy’s Home 2’. He will also likely join Vince Vaughn for the gritty crime indie ‘Dragged Across Concrete’.

Ryan Murphy is bringing the dramatic 2016 US elections to the next season of the anthology series: ‘American Horror Story’. He made this revelation during an interview. According to Murphy, Season Seven of the Fox series will tackle the dramatic defeat of former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton by business mogul, Donald Trump. He said the storyline will be something his audience will be interested in. He also hinted a possibility of having a character based on the President. Shooting will kick off in June.

Katherine McKee who joined several women to accuse the comedian, Bill Cosby of sexual harassment lost her case recently. She had earlier alleged that Cosby raped her in a Detroit Hotel in 1974.
However, a federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed her case citing inadequate evidence that the accused committed the crime. Cosby still faces a criminal charge in Pennsylvania from a sexual allegation from a former employee at Temple University.