This Is What Jimmy Kimmel Can Do To Make The 2017 Oscars Not So White

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock.
On the evening of February 26, 2017, Jimmy Kimmel will be paid between $15,000 and $25,000 to host the Academy Awards. This will be near the 80th time a white man has hosted the highly esteemed awards show. It's no longer frustrating that such roles are consistently given to the same type of person. It's embarrassing on behalf of those involved in any aspect of the billion-dollar entertainment industry. It's a lazy decision that, in turn, negates the avid work of directors, actors, and producers who, year after year, have tried to make the Oscars less white. This isn't to say that Kimmel isn't a funny, charming, and likable guy. He recently hosted the Emmys and it went splendidly, according to various reviews (he only had one questionable moment). The rest of the time he easily stuck to a palatable and fairly neutral script. He allowed the attendees and Emmy nominees to shine on their own, making it clear that the night was not about him. But couldn't a woman, man of color, or (gasp) a woman of color, do the same exact job? Why are we, or rather, The Academy, falling into the same #OscarsSoWhite narrative that we have succumbed to again, and again. With complex and beautiful movies like Moonlight, Fences, and Loving at the heart of the Oscar-prediction conversation, it feels like a slap in the face to enlist one of the Jimmys as the voice and face of our diverse Hollywood landscape this year. But, since this is the situation at hand, there are a few ways that Kimmel can make the Oscars not so white, not so bleak, and not so damn predictable. Kimmel should have a roster of jokes lined up to make fun of the fact that he, a night show host, is hosting a room full of more talented and more vibrant actors and influencers. He should be confident enough in his material to keep the conversation around #OscarsSoWhite alive and thriving, because that is how change occurs. He should suggest a few hosts for next year (I even made a shortlist for him, here) that are more representative. He should talk about the representation of people of color in film, and how inspiring that is to children all across the country. He should enlist a set of cohosts to share the stage with him. He should talk about inclusion, inspiration, and empowerment, following an election that has many questioning the existence of all three ideas. He should make us laugh, but more than that, he should make us think. He should acknowledge his own inherent privilege as a white, successful man in the TV industry. He should thank the big brothers at ABC for giving him this opportunity, one that will probably be offered to him again (and again) until we start to see some real, and welcome, change.

The 89th Academy Awards will air on ABC on February 26, 2017.

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