For actors of color, there won’t be much to celebrate at the Oscars on Sunday night — for the second year in a row, none were nominated. Plenty of celebrities have responded by boycotting the ceremony, with music mogul Russell Simmons even holding his own version of the awards at the same time.
The choice wasn’t that simple for Dylan Marron. The Venezuelan-American actor was best known for Welcome to Night Vale until last summer, when he started the viral Tumblr project Every Single Word, which edits down movies to only the dialogue of non-white characters. (Spoiler alert: Most clock in at mere seconds, if any.) He’s loved the Oscars since childhood, calling the ceremony “my Super Bowl.” Though he’s not much for football, “I get why people might watch it,” he says. “You’re watching people put everything on the line and compete based on merit and talent.
“What is so disheartening to me is that I would watch the Oscars as a kid and I truly thought they were honoring the best," Marron explains. "[As] I grew up and started realizing just how much goes into who even gets to be part of that group, I realized how skewed it is.”
He knew he wanted to do something from the day the Oscar nominations came out, but tread a “happy medium” between criticizing the show and boycotting it.
“Nobody wants to be shamed into talking about issues,” he says. “But we do kind of want to be lulled into it, and comedy is such an incredible tool.”
And between his work as a comedian and Tumblr, Marron knows a lot of funny people. On Sunday, he and seven other “fans who are skeptical about this whole industry” will host a viewing party at theBowery Ballroomwith live commentary for the first-ever live edition of Every Single Word. They include Danielle Henderson, creator ofFeminist Ryan Gosling; WNYC’s Sean Rameshwaram, who questioned what public radio should sound like with theI am Lakshmi Singhmeme, Franchesca Ramsey ofShit White Girls Say to Black Girlsand “Broad City” writer Naomi Ekperigin.
“What I want is to essentially be Mystery Science Theater 3000 of the Oscars, by people whose point of view is about understanding the media and talking about it in a really open, comedic and insightful way,” says Marron.
And it won’t just be a night of pointed laughter, either. All of the proceeds will go toward making the Oscars less white by fundingMade in NY’s PA Training Program, which gets low-income New Yorkers (who, Marron points out, tend to be people of color) onto sets to begin their careers in entertainment.
“It’s opening a door where there wasn’t a door,” he says. “It is very very hard to crack into the film industry, and one of the biggest ways is nepotism, it’s legacies. That’s not to say that talent isn’t enough, but you have to be talentedandbe connected.”
Every Single Word: The Oscars
Feb. 28, 7 p.m.
The Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St.