On Sunday, February 28 in the United States, The Academy Awards showcased five women for Best Actress: Cate Blanchett in Carol, Brie Larson, in Room, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn.
And the winner is…..Brie Larson!
Rampling was definitely in the running – although nominated for the first time in her career, she has had a long and successful run as a model and actress.
Unfortunately, right after the Oscar nominations were announced, Rampling dropped the baton. In 2016, for the second year in a row, there were no nominees of color in the major acting categories. This prompted calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards. That in turn prompted Rampling to speak out on her own in a French talk show, saying that talk of boycotting the Academy Awards because no Blacks were nominated is “racist to whites.” She continued by saying, “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”
Coincidentally (or perhaps ironically), Rampling’s father, Godfrey Rampling, competed in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as a 400-meter sprinter. While finishing fourth in the individual men’s 400-meter competition, he and his team from Great Britain won the 4X400 relay finals, in good part due to Godfrey Rampling’s stunning burst to take the lead from Canada in the second leg, enabling Team GB to win gold.
These were of course the Olympics that pitted the position of Arayan superiority against all who were not of Arayan stock, a backdrop that reflected the spotlight on black American sprinter, Jesse Owens. And while I have no idea what thoughts Godfrey Rampling had on race, the thoughts of his daughter, Charlotte, dully echo those from Berlin…in my opinion.
Fortunately, (black) comedian Chris Rock was the host of the 2016 Academy Awards, and if anyone could respond to the Charlotte Ramplings of the world, it was Chris Rock. Here is a transcript of his opening monologue at the Oscars, which walks a fine line, attacks the extremes of the argument, and makes us laugh and think.