You may have noticed that this year's Oscar nominations have inspired more impassioned conversations than usual, but, unfortunately for the Academy, much of that reaction has been dominated by criticism.
Almost as soon as John Krasinski and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs rattled off the nominees in major categories, there was an outcry on the Internet and beyond about the lack of diversity. In all the performance categories only white actors received nominations. Even in movies that centered on black characters (Creed, Straight Outta Compton), only certain white people involved were recognized (Sylvester Stallone and the Straight Outta Compton screenwriters).
The trending topic #OscarsSoWhite picked up steam immediately, with Twitter users everywhere calling out the Oscars for snubbing director F. Gary Gray, actors Michael B. Jordan and Idris Elba, and many others they felt were deserving.
Now, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy, is addressing the controversy with a heartfelt statement from the Academy itself, and it looks like we could actually see some substantial changes.
Here's her statement in full
As you can see, the backlash from this year's nominations had some real effects. No matter how many statements or directives Cheryl Boone Isaacs herself can dole out, it may just come down to the voting body that selects the nominees (and ultimately winners) for the prestigious Oscar awards.
That's why she's taking on the membership recruitment process as her weapon of attack against seeing the Oscars be so white for the third straight year in a row.
Many critics are pointing to the breakdown of the Academy's voting body as the overarching problem
The statistics that are most striking are in the bottom left hand corner of this infographic. Considering the fact that the voting body is 93% white and 76% male, it's hard not to see a correlation with their background and the movies that end up getting nominated for Oscars.
Even if you think that they were among the best movies of the year, films like The Big Short, The Revenant, and Spotlight foreground the stories of white protagonists, and those are the ones that tend to get recognized.
This promise of change comes amid calls for an Oscar boycott from Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith
Both influential Hollywood players called for people of color to recognize that they don't need to ask for a seat at the table, and they should also not offer their time and energy doling out awards that they are disproportionately shut off from.
Actor David Oyelowo also weighed in on the controversy
Oyelowo, who was infamously shut out of last year's Best Actor race despite a truly memorable performance as Martin Luther King Jr., did not mince words when it came to the topic of race in Hollywood. At a gala honoring Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the actor strayed from his planned remarks to rebuke the Academy for being out of touch.
“This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.”
Perhaps with this new initiative, the Academy will be more reflective of the multicultural society Oyelowo acknowledges before next year's nominations come around.
(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)