by ANDRE DREW and ALEXANDRIA COLEMAN
Co-editor and staff writer
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been trending in protest of the Academy Awards’ lack of diversity this year.
On Jan. 18, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee criticized the nominations on their social media and called for a boycott of the awards.
This is not the first time this issue has been brought up about the Academy Awards. According to CNN, “the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has faced years of criticism that its 7,000-plus members who vote on the Oscars are mostly older, male, white and out of touch with today's moviegoers.” The academy awards did not start the problem. The problem lies within Hollywood in general. Spike Lee posted on Instagram, “As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where the "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap.”
Lee said minorities are not in those groups and until they are, it will stay forever white.
Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video on Facebook talking about the lack of diversity in the Oscars. Her husband, Will Smith, was mentioned for a nomination for his role in the movie “Concussion,” but was not actually nominated.
What is being said about lack of diversity?
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, after the nominations were announced, issued this statement: “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee have called for the African American community to boycott the Oscars entirely. Actress Helen Mirren disagrees, saying that “it’s unfair to attack the Academy.” The bigger question she asks is what’s happening before the movies even get to the Oscars. "What kind of films are made, and the way in which they're cast, and the scripts," she said. "So it's those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands there with an Oscar."
Why there is a lack of diversity?
The lack of diversity can possibly stem from the lack of people of color in the Academy itself. In a 2012 article , it was said that the academy overall was made up, at the time, of 94% Whites, 77% male, 2% Black and Latino and 5% Asians and Native Americans
What movies have been overlooked?
Notable examples include Creed, Straight out of Compton, Concussion, and Beasts of No Nation
This year’s cause for discord maybe be ending. New rules adopted at the Academy in terms of membership. The official Oscar website says that “The new membership rules affect both old and new members to the Academy. Starting in late 2016, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years and will be renewed only if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. Members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. If a current member has not been active in the past 10 years, they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to another form of membership called emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues, but can enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. In addition, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the president for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.” This means that they are opening up to more of a more diverse group which includes women and people of color. They are not necessarily removing people, but opening up spots for others.
Last year, the trending hashtag was #OscarsSoWhite. This year, it’s #OscarsStillSoWhite. Let’s hope next year, a hashtag won’t be necessary.
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