Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons says people should not boycott Denzel Washington’s Flight and instead Americans need to “embrace” a new reality where “black people are pilots of airplane and have problems just like white people.”
Washington, who will more than likely hear his name announced during the Oscar nomination, plays a pilot who after a few drinks lands a plane upside down and saves his passengers. The pilot is said to be later inspected when alcohol shows up in his blood level and a case is pursued.
Denzel, who didn’t win for his portrayal of Malcolm X, has inadvertently angered observers who note that he took on a typical role for Oscar gold. Dr. Boyce Watkins has said that he wants to boycott the Oscars because of their lack of support for African American actors. Watkins went on to say, “If a black person does a good impression of a thief, drug addict, prostitute, maid or athlete, you’ve got yourself a touchdown. The worst thing you can do, however, is play a role that communicates intelligence, integrity or courage … that’s ‘not realistic.”
Simmons, however, responded to that statement by writing his own statement for the Hollywood Reporter:
“There have been some bloggers who claim Denzel played a “stereotypical” role and that the Oscar buzz should have been around his performance in Malcolm X, not for Flight. I agree that Denzel should have gotten an Oscar for his performance in Malcolm X, but I certainly don’t believe that Denzel’s character was a role stuck in a stereotype. I was impressed with Denzel’s ability to take on another difficult role and play it with surreal authenticity and charismatic grace. There should be nothing stereotypical about playing a drug addict or a drunk, regardless of your skin color.”
Do you agree with Russell Simmons about the representation of African Americans in cinema and Denzel’s Washington’s role?