Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coming Up on "The View": Whoopi Litella...

Early episodes of Saturday Night Live featured Gilda Radner playing a character named Emily Litella, an older woman with a hearing problem who would rant about an issue that SNL's news reporters allegedly covered. She would get incensed that people wanted to cut down on "violins on television" (actually violence on television) or she'd make an impassioned plea to "save Soviet jewelry" (Soviet Jewry). After one of the anchors would point out her error, she'd wrinkle her nose, say something like, "Oh, that's very different..." and then meekly turn to the camera and say, "Never mind."

Yesterday's episode of The View could have used a visit from Emily Litella. Whoopi Goldberg began expressing her deep dissatisfaction with a New York Times article about the dearth of black actors among this year's Oscar nominees, because it did not list her as an Oscar winner.

The article discussed the small number of Oscar nominations and wins for black actors, noting that Denzel Washington and Halle Berry had won Oscars nine years ago. "Real change seemed to have come to movies or at least the Academy, which had given statuettes to a total of seven black actors in the previous 73 years," the authors wrote. "After Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry, there would be Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker (both Best Actors), Morgan Freeman (Best Supporting Actor), Jennifer Hudson, and Mo’Nique (Best Supporting Actresses)."

Goldberg took umbrage with the fact that her name was not included, neglecting to notice that those actors who won prior to 2002 (when Washington and Berry won) were not named. And her co-hosts added fuel to the fire, with Barbara Walters criticizing the paper as well and Elisabeth Hasselbeck noting she canceled her subscription in protest.

Goldberg said she was "dismissed and erased" by the Times' top film critics and described the piece as "sloppy journalism." Addressing the Times, Goldberg said, "You’re supposed to be better than this. This is not some newspaper from Hoochie-Coochie Land." "Dammit, get your facts straight!" she concluded, presenting her Oscar (for 1990's Ghost).

A spokesperson for the Times responded to Goldberg's criticism in this fashion:

"The error lies with those who are reading the story incorrectly. The point of the piece was not to name every black actor or actress who has been awarded an Oscar, it was to draw a comparison between the number who won prior to 2002 (the year Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won) and those who have won since. And the story states very clearly that in 73 years, prior to 2002, only seven black actors/actresses won Oscars."

All together now, Ms. Goldberg? "Never mind."

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