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‘Green Book’ best picture Oscar provokes backlash from film’s detractors | TribLIVE.com
Movies/TV

‘Green Book’ best picture Oscar provokes backlash from film’s detractors

Stephen Huba
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Patti Perret/Universal Pictures via AP
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Viggo Mortensen (left) and Mahershala Ali in a scene from “Green Book.”
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Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Brian Hayes Currie (from left) Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga accept the award for best original screenplay for “Green Book” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Given the fraught topic of race and racism in America, it should surprise no one that the best picture Oscar for “Green Book” is now surrounded by controversy.

The movie about an Italian-American bouncer who chauffeurs an African-American pianist around the Jim Crow South — based on a true story — has had its share of critics since its release.

But the reaction was magnified when the movie took best picture honors at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, as well as a best supporting actor award for Mahershala Ali, who played Dr. Donald Shirley, the pianist.

While hailed as a tribute to racial tolerance by its makers and stars, “Green Book” also was widely criticized as an outdated, sentimentalized movie full of racial stereotypes.

Some of the musician’s relatives took issue with the story’s accuracy, while others complained that the real Green Book, which helped African-Americans navigate the American South more safely in the Jim Crow era, barely got a mention in the movie.

“BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee was visibly angry when the best picture Oscar went to “Green Book.” Seated in the audience, Lee waved his hands in disgust and appeared to try to walk out of the Dolby Theatre.

BuzzFeed News helpfully summed up all the controversies dogging the movie, including allegations of racism, sexual harassment and Islamophobia on the part of the movie’s creative team.

Other tweets instructed people to skip the movie and see a Smithsonian Channel documentary on the Green Book instead.

Others recommended the New York Public Library’s online archive of actual Green Books from the 1930s to the 1960s.

In a column for the Hollywood Reporter in January, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar defended the movie.

In January, Patrick Bochy, executive administrator at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, gave a presentation on the Green Book at the Lincoln Highway Experience, 3435 U.S. Route 30, Unity.

Green Book listings for Western Pennsylvania were concentrated in Pittsburgh’s Hill District but also included establishments in Washington. Later, the Carlton Motel in North Huntingdon — though listed as Irwin — was added because of its proximity to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: AandE | Movies TV
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