What follows is a timeline of my favorite celebrity interaction of 2016 thus far. I recognize that we are only 20 days into the year, but don’t let that detract from the shit-slinging glory that is Jada Pinkett Smith vs. Janet Huber.
January 14th: The Oscar Nominations are announced. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, they were overwhelmingly white. If it feels like this comment gets made every year, it’s because it does.
The Oscars are notoriously white washed and people, us commoners, and famous folk alike have decided it’s time to finally say something about it. Of the twenty major actor and actress nominations, zero are black (or any other race for that matter) despite some pretty great performances by actors of color this year. Will Smith, Idris Elbra, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, and Benicio del Toro are widely considered to have been snubbed for their various roles. On a scale of 1 – White, the 2016 nominations fall right around calling pepper spicy, and people are not happy about it.
As unhappy people are wont to do in this digital age, #BoycottTheOscars was born and rapidly gained support across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Multiple notable celebrities have joined the movement, including Spike Lee, Snoop Dogg, and the source of all this delicious drama, Jada Pinkett Smith.
January 16th: Jada takes to Twitter to express her disappointment in the lack of diversity in this year’s group of nominations. A normal response that no one but Fox News and its fan base were particularly offended by.
At the Oscars...people of color are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain, (pt. 1)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? (pt 2)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment. J (pt 3)— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
January 18th: Jada posts a video to her Facebook page in which she officially declares that she will be boycotting the Oscars this year. It is implied that Will Smith will also not be in attendance, because let’s be real, we all know who wears the pants in that relationship. She ends her message with a shout out to Chris Rock, who will be hosting this year. She apologizes for not showing up to, or even watching, the show, but assures him that “there is no better man for the job.”
January 19th: This is where shit gets good. We all remember Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We’ve all Carltoned while drunk. We’ve all looked to Hillary and Ashley as inspiration for our 90’s themed parties. But one mystery that plagued all of our childhoods is about to be solved.
Remember when about two seasons into the show, without any fanfare, there was just suddenly a new Aunt Viv? No explanation, not even a feeble attempt at a plot twist. A glimpse directly into the camera and shrug from Will Smith was our only indication that this was actually happening, and our collective pre-teen selves just blindly accepted this new woman into our imaginary Bel-Air family and never looked back. I’m here to offer you all a bit of closure, fifteen years too late. There was, in fact, a reason for this upheaval, and it is that Aunt Viv the first was batshit crazy.
I’m not lightly throwing something like that out there in response what we’re about to show you. It turns out there’s a lot of documented stories about this very topic, including this video where Alfonso Ribeiro straight up tells a crowd of people that she was certifiably insane. I would have taken that all with a grain of salt if it were not for the video that Janet Hubert (the OG Aunt Viv) posted on Facebook yesterday. Watch it in all its glory below.
Let’s break down the individual elements that came together to create this shit storm of shade and twenty years worth of resentment.
- That filter, straight out of middle school and our nightmares. Sepia? Too understated. Black and white? Too serious. Comic Book dots all over my fucking face? That screams stability. Check.
- “I don’t give a kitty.” My new favorite saying.
- Straight up addressing Jada as “Ms. Thing” as if people haven’t been gutted for less.
- The frightening accuracy of her Will Smith impression.
- “The only Oscar I care about right now is Oscar Meyer wiener, with mustard and relish.” –TBH this should be Leo’s speech to the press when he doesn’t win for the 30th year in a row.
The entire video can be surmised in this single image, with Kim in the role of Jada and Kourtney as Aunt Viv.
Naturally, the discussion that has been occurring after the significant period of time it took to recover from this nugget of media gold is this: whose side do we take?
Is Jada right to be angry about the lack of diversity and representation year after year in an industry full of talented people of color? Yes, she is. Is Aunt Viv right that there’s some seriously more important shit going on in the world than Oscar nominations amongst a very small group of stupidly rich people? Yeah, she’s probably right, too. Is Chris Rock going to make an obscene amount of jokes about this very topic to a room of wholly uncomfortable white people? God I hope so.
This interaction, as hilarious as it is, could serve the greater purpose of instigating change in a system that's been long overdue for an update. The president of the Academy has already responded with a heartfelt letter and promises for an overhaul of the nomination system. This will no doubt be a heavily discussed topic for the rest of award season, and hopefully that momentum continues into the rest of the 2016.
Whatever the outcome, I sincerely hope this is not the last we hear of Janet Huber. Peace and blessings, indeed.