Charlotte Rampling On Oscars Boycott: 'Racist Against Whites'

Charlotte Rampling in December 2015
Charlotte Rampling in December 2015

PARIS â€" Invited on French radio Europe 1, British actress and Oscar-nominee Charlotte Rampling has weighed in on the controversy over the lack of diversity this year among Academy Award nominees, saying that filmmaker Spike Lee's call to boycott the ceremony was "racist against whites."

The 69-year-old English-born actress, famous for her movies in three languages (English, French and Italian) and nominated for Best Actress at the 88th Academy Awards for her role in Andrew Haigh's drama 45 Years, suggested that "maybe the black actors didn't deserve to make it to the last leg."

Speaking in French, she responded to a question about quotas: "Why classify people? Today we're living in a world where everyone is more or less accepted, but there'll always be problems like "this one is less handsome, that one's too black, that one's too white" ... So we'll always classify people in thousands of little minorities everywhere."

Challenged by the interviewer that African-Americans feel that they are still an under-represented minority, Rampling switched to English: "No comment."

For the second year in a row, the 20 nominees in the top four acting categories are white. This lack of diversity has led high-profile Hollywood figures like Jada Pinkett-Smith and husband Will Smith to announce they were boycotting the Feb. 28 ceremony. Others like actors David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, George Clooney, and Idris Elba have publicly criticized the lack of nominees of color.

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Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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