What Girls Trip Snubs Really Say About Black Movies In Hollywood

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Jada Pinkett Smith was pissed yesterday. In a multi-tweet thread, she admonished the Golden Globes for not acknowledging Girls Trip, the blockbuster film in which she co-starred this summer. The film nailed it at the box office (domestic gross $113.3 million, according to Forbes), and served as the breakout role for Tiffany Haddish, who has been sailing high ever since. Smith took it as an affront that Haddish wasn’t nominated for her role in the film and claims the Hollywood Foreign Press declined to watch the movie for consideration for an award. She also noted that the same group chose to have Haddish present at the awards show.
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This brings us to the 2018 SAG nominations, which were released earlier today. The Screen Actors Guild is made up of actors, and every year they come together to honor their peers. By focusing solely on onscreen performances, the SAGs are less bureaucratic than the Globes. If Haddish were to receive any recognition for Girls Trip, this would be the golden opportunity, no pun intended. But alas, Haddish was once again missing from the list of nominees in any of the female motion picture categories — a snub that feels pretty disappointing. There is a chasm in Hollywood that needs to be addressed.
Obviously, Hollywood has a diversity problem. Ever since April Reign (@ReignOfApril on Twitter) was bold and clever enough to name the fact that the Oscars were so white in 2015, both viewers and film industry insiders zeroed in on the lack of roles for people of color in front and behind the camera. It has prompted studios and awarding parties like the Oscars to shine a brighter light on those individuals. Perhaps the biggest shift was the Academy drastically expanding the number of people in the industry invited to be members and increasing the percentage of members of color. Outside of that, change has been slow to come. Part of that is Hollywood’s absolute refusal to decenter whiteness.
There is a divide in Hollywood that has relegated Black movies into a niche category. Despite the hundreds of movies that are given top honors while effectively ignoring people of color, films like Girls Trip seem to be excluded on the principle that they appeal to a different audience. Moonlight and Precious — both of which were nominated for Oscars, the former won best picture — are examples of rare exceptions, not inclusion. And even they reveal the film industry’s investment in Black pain and trauma as entertainment. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Get Out — an allegory on the violent nature of white supremacy — is not only categorized as a comedy by the Golden Globes, but has already received more nods than Girls Trip. I’m not hopeful that either will receive top nods from the Oscars.
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In her Twitter rant, Smith suggested that Hollywood needed to, “learn to expand its concepts of race, gender equality and inclusion in regard to its perceptions of art across the board.” Black art is still art. Black audiences support the industry as a whole. And Black performers like Haddish have been killing it. Most importantly, Black people are just as much a part of the cultural experience as anyone else. And the moments in which that aspect of culture is reflected back are just as central to great storytelling and art.
Refinery29 has reached out to Universal Studios about whether or not Girls Trip had been submitted for consideration for the SAG Awards and has yet to receive a response at the time of publishing. As for Haddish, this is what she had to say on the matter:
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