Oscar season is upon us once more! Glamour, celebrities, entertainment and the ever-present question of, “Will this be Leo’s year?”
While the Oscar ceremonies are generally a time to celebrate outstanding artistry in film, the focus of this year’s show seems to be less on the movies and more on the Academy itself. Controversy, criticism and calls for change have dominated much of the conversation surrounding the 2016 Oscar Awards.
If the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite doesn’t make it clear, the list of nominees is almost entirely void of people of color; a fact that has not gone unnoticed. For the second year in a row the top four categories feature an all white cast. Alas, the whitewash saga continues.
Movies like Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, Beasts Of No Nation and Creed all feature actors of color who and have all been overlooked, despite stellar performances that arguably deserve a nod. Some artist like Spike Lee and Will and Jada Smith are outraged, boycotting the ceremony and publicly bashing the entire institution. A few celebrities have gone as far as to ask this year’s host, Chris Rock, to step down in protest.
It has been pointed out in defense of the Academy that actors of color have, of course, been honored over the years. It was only two years ago that 12 Years A Slave won best picture. And we can’t forget the glorious evening in 2002 when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won the top two acting awards on the very same night. But there’s no denying that, in a year that was particularly fueled with racial tensions, the snub was a hard pill to swallow. And the wildly underwhelming number of black actors who have won an Oscar over the last 87 years only makes a stronger case.
I don’t believe that there was malicious, racist intent behind the nominations. Of course, many deserving actors get overlooked depending on many circumstances, including the other performances that year (I’m talking about you again, Leo.) It’s also important to recognize that nominations are based off of the opinions of the Academy. We can’t ask people to alter opinions for diversities sake, but what we can do is alter the diversity of the Academy. The absurd lack of diversity amongst members of the Academy is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed.
Regardless of whether or not you think the nominations were unjust, we can certainly agree that the voting members are lacking in the diversity department. With 94% of the 5,765 voters being white, 76% male and having an average age of 63, on paper it seems that they might extend a limited viewpoint. It’s necessary to have artists of all ages, genders, races and cultures in order to ensure a more well rounded outlook that includes more people and expresses the opinions of our generation.
The Academy has ensured that after this year’s response, they will certainly be making changes in order to ensure a more diverse voting pool. They have stated that by 2020 they intend to double the size of women and minority members. For the sake of inclusion and integrity of the art, let’s hope they aren’t just putting on a performance!