When Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress last night, I thought this blog had written itself. All I needed to do was list the names and roles of black women who had won Oscars, make a few comments about some very obvious things, and keep it moving. However, Meryl Streep’s shocking win over the presumed winner of the Best Actress award, Viola Davis, threw a bit of a wrinkle in that plan.
I’ve made it very clear that I was neither in support of The Help nor black actresses only being awarded for their craft when they reinvigorate old stereotypes that are both problematic and troublesome. I wonder, though, how many understand Davis’ unexpected loss. It seems like there are a few ways to interpret it: