Racism? Homophobia?

The failure of “Dreamgirls,” the longtime presumptive front-runner for the best picture Oscar, to even be nominated in that category may seem to prove the argument – also floated in the last couple of months – that the movie’s Achilles heel could be the fact that no African-American production has ever won the top Academy Award.
Maybe. Who knows how some academy voters’ minds work (I know that their choices usually baffle me). But, considering other aspects of Tuesday’s nominations, it’s logical to conclude that racism was a minor factor in the “Dreamgirls” snub, if it was even a factor at all.
For one thing, if the overwhelmingly white academy preferred their own, it’s unlikely that seven of the 20 acting slots would have gone to non-Europen people of color – the largest minority representation ever, by many reports.
Then there’s the fact that the top two cumulative nomination-getters are “Dreamgirls” (with eight) and the multi-ethnic “Babel” (seven). The Mexican production “Pan’s Labyrinth” clocked an impressive six nominations. And the film that displaced “Dreamgirls” from the best picture race, “Letters from Iwo Jima,” features an essentially all-Asian cast, speaking in Japanese and empathetically portraying enemies American films virulently dehumanized during World War II and for quite some time afterward.
If you’ve got to make a prejudice case for the “Dreamgirls” snub, perhaps homophobia sticks a little better. We all know that some academy voters were adamantly against giving best picture to “Brokeback Mountain” last year solely because of its sexual politics. And while there’s nothing overtly queer in “Dreamgirls,” it’s a well-known favorite of gay men.
Perhaps most damning, “Dreamgirls'” white, gay writer-director, Bill Condon, was also shut out of the two categories he qualified for. So, as Nathan Lane once said, you do the math.

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