The film, centered around a white man (Viggo Mortensen) driving a black musician (Mahershala Ali) around the South in 1962, was racked with controversies from the very beginning. To start, some critics said the film was essentially a “white savior” story told from the perspective of white men. This critique was backed up by the sight of predominantly white men accepting the award on Sunday.
Past allegations of sexual misconduct against Peter Farrelly, the director, resurfaced in January, drawing even more criticisms. Admitting that descriptions in 1998 of him flashing his genitals on the set of his films were true, Farrelly apologized for his behavior.
“True. I was an idiot,” Farrelly said in a statement in January to CNN. “I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”
Then, the film’s writer and producer was called out for an anti-Muslim social media post from 2015. Nick Vallelonga, whose father is portrayed in Green Book, apologized for his tweet agreeing with Donald Trump’s claim that Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey.
Family members of Don Shirley, the black musician depicted in Green Book, also accused the filmmakers of inaccurately depicting Shirley. Vallelonga told the Hollywood Reporter backstage at the Oscars that Shirley told him not to reach out to his family about the film, adding that he didn’t really know about them until after the film was already in production.
Because of these scandals, people were taken aback when Green Book was named Best Picture, beating out Black Panther and Roma.
For Greenbook the road to the #Oscars! started with Viggo dropping a racial slur at a presser, made a scenic stop in anti-Muslim tweets, took a pitstop in remember how Peter Farrelley whipped his dick out, and cruised right on into the biggest award of the night. What a ride.
— Allison P Davis (@AllisonPDavis) February 25, 2019
— Salina (@sadolphy) February 25, 2019
No disrespect to Green Book at the #Oscars, but many of us in the black community would like to see greater recognition for movies about the black experience and not just for movies that make the black experience comfortable for white audiences.pic.twitter.com/vOdNEmx53X
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 25, 2019
green book: *wins*
— zahra *:･ﾟ✧ (@filmsbybenedict) February 25, 2019
Oscar viewers were also frustrated that the filmmakers’ acceptance speeches didn’t recognize the black man behind the historical “Green Book” travel guide for people of color: Victor Hugo Green. Farrelly explicitly said the film “started with Viggo [Mortensen],” the white actor who said the N-word while promoting the movie back in November.
Wow. Just wow. Notice how they did not even acknowledge the creator of the actual Green Book, Victor Hugo Green in the acceptance speech for Best Picture. “It all started with Viggo.” How disrespectful. #Oscars
— Rebecca Theodore-Vachon (@FilmFatale_NYC) February 25, 2019
For anyone who may be interested in what the Green Book actually was, here is a link to more information about this act of resistance and source of love and survival for many African-Americans. It started with Victor Hugo Green. #OSCARS https://t.co/gdFp1mekub pic.twitter.com/9WkeInv2fd
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 25, 2019
“It all started with Viggo.”
What an insanely tone-deaf statement.
It actually all started with Don Shirley and Victor Hugo Green.
— Brad Whipple (@brad_whipple) February 25, 2019
On top of winning Best Picture, Green Book won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and Ali was named Best Supporting Actor.
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