UNITED STATES—Ok, so this is an issue I want to talk about because the wave of criticism has been overwhelming since last Thursday when the Oscar nominations were announced. For the second year in a row, no minorities were nominated in the acting races, which have left many in uproar. I can’t tell you how many entertainment outlets that I visit on a frequent basis all had HEADLINES about no people of color being nominated in the acting categories. Of course, there was also talk about snubs as well.
Well guess what people, these are the Academy Awards, surprises always happen year after year. Lately, plenty of actors, actresses and directors have spoken out about the lack of diversity in the Academy. Jada Pinkett Smith took to social media to voice her opinion on the controversy. Her response has many people talking, and so much to the point that I can’t help but look at the comments people make and raise the question “Really?” I mean it seems like so many people say hateful, racist and ignorant comments on various online sites, not realizing that those words do indeed have an impact on the community. You’re spreading hate people, STOP DAMMIT! It’s not necessary.
Recently, I heard news about director Spike Lee who has decided to not attend this year’s Academy Awards because of the lack of diversity that has been represented at this year’s ceremony. Look, it’s no secret that the Academy Awards is in need of a massive diversity boost. I mean last year or a few years ago a report was unveiled that indicated the Academy has more than 90 percent of its members being Caucasian, in addition, most of those members were older Caucasian males. So people there you go. You can’t expect diversity in nominations until we see more diverse members become prevalent in the organization.
I hate to say this, but it’s true: at some point many members of the Academy who are up there in age will die and that will open the doors for more people to join the ranks hopefully those of a more diverse background. In addition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been notorious for putting the spotlight on indie flicks and those smaller films most Americans have never seen and will never see.
I mean it wasn’t really until 2008/2009 that the AMPAS discovered they were really out of touch with the American people. Sorry, that snub for “The Dark Knight” in the Best Picture race was a travesty. That opened the door to the Oscars opening the floodgates to more nominees for Best Picture. Since 2010, we’ve seen anywhere from 8-10 pictures in the running, but let’s be honest we already know the fact of being nominated is just a consolation for many of those movies.
I mean we can look at this year’s nominees and let’s be honest only 2-3 of them have actually had decent success at the box-office, one being “The Martian” and the other being “The Revenant.” Should “Straight Outta Compton” picked up a Best Picture nomination probably, but what people forget is these are people VOTING on what they thought were the Best Picture of the year, so what that means favorites will not always be in the mix.
To make matters worse, I thought “The Hateful Eight” should have been a contender for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson) and Best Supporting Actor (Walton Goggins), but I’m not in uproar over those snubs. It happens, and unfortunately, the only way to change those things is to stop watching the Academy Awards. Will the ceremony see a dip in viewership this year, I’m certain they will, but they could perhaps prevent some of that bleeding by perhaps opening another slot in many of the major races. I mean heck they did it for Best Picture, why not Best Actor, Actress, Director, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress?
Another reason we don’t see more diversity in the nominations is the lack of viable candidates in Hollywood. Hey, there is a lack of minorities in power positions in the executive office, at the movie studios, in the director’s chair, writing screenplays, casting, acting opportunities. I mean to be honest; more scripts needs to be in contention providing meaty and transformative performances for minorities. The more diversity in cinema, the more opportunities that open to see more Oscar nominations that are indicative of what many people want and should see in the cinematic world.
I will admit the one thing that has been bugging me for years is when people categorize flicks as ‘black movies.’ What the hell does that mean? That boils my blood. I don’t go into the theater saying this is a Hispanic-driven flick, or a White movie, it’s a movie, and while it’s ok to categorize a flick on genre, I don’t agree with categorizing a flick based on race. I mean people of all various ethnicities and cultures go to the movies and enjoy watching cinema all the time. This is in part to critics. Stop it, stop doing it, and stop labeling movies in such an arena because you’re not helping expand the growth of diversity in an industry that so many people utilize to escape from such daily stressors.
I feel the remnants of the past two years of lackluster nominations will put the AMPAS in a situation where people might get nominated solely on the inclusion of attempting to create diversity and not merit. Diversity is not going to happen simply because people are talking about it. We must see more diversity in the industry as a whole that will impact more movies from minorities being showcased in theaters and to America.
I mean I can list a sleuth of flicks, directors, actors, actresses and writers who should have been nominated for Oscars this year, but it is not going to happen. Change begins within the Academy’s membership and more importantly it starts with the entire filmmaking process.