When the Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week, outrage erupted over the fact that not a single person of color made the — for the second consecutive year in a row, the board nominated 20 white actors as the best performances of the year. Once again, it appeared as if the Academy Awards had failed to represent a proportion of great talent operating in the industry, sparking the controversial hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to swamp social media streams.
And amidst leading Hollywood actors Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith publicly announcing that they will be boycotting the ceremony in late February, another movie industry stalwart has also offered his opinion on the issue of diversity.
"We're moving in the wrong direction"
Speaking to Variety, two-time Oscar winner George Clooney has claimed that in his experience of Hollywood, the problem of inequality has only gotten worse. He said:
"If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. [...] I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees—like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table."
Indeed, Clooney is right to point out that this year, critically-acclaimed blockbusters such as Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, and Creed have failed to be recognized and were exempt from nominations. Additionally, Netflix's stunning original feature Beasts of No Nation did not receive any recognition, nor did British actor Idris Elba for his phenomenal contribution to the project. If you're not familiar with it, here's the epic trailer:
"We should have been paying attention long before this"
What's more, is that in Clooney's opinion, the bigger issue is the fact that there is a lack of opportunities for people who aren't white in the industry. He said:
"I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films? I think we have a lot of points we need to come to terms with."
"We should have been paying attention long before this. I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough. I think that’s absolutely true."
"We need to get better at this"
Finally, the actor hit the nail on the head, arguing:
"There should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it."
Let's hope 2016 is the year for improvement.