Hollywood should represent all of us! The truth of #OscarSoWhite
The Academy Awards is ignoring a group of talented people who all of one thing in common: Race.
If you’re wondering what the #OscarSoWhite anger is all about, this image bouncing around Twitter is a pretty good depiction:
This story has taken over twitter as well as many news outlets:
Here is the issue by the numbers:
And individuals from across the country, from all racial backgrounds are outraged:
Dear Academy, #OscarsSoWhite? Again? In a year with CREED, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, and BEASTS OF NO NATION? What more did you need?— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) January 14, 2016
The lack of black actors in leading roles can be attributed to a wide range of systemic problems, in and outside of Hollywood. The causes range from hiring practices to creative selection of screenplays with a lack of diversity to cultural barriers to racism. Whatever the cause, the outcome is that black talent in Hollywood is not getting the opportunities or recognition they deserve.
In years past defenders of the white-washed Academy nominations have said things like “there just weren’t that many great performances.” In some years this may have even been true--largely because studios do stuff like this:
While trying to sell film rights for my last book, one big producer suggested we change main character from black to white. #OscarsSoWhite— Brendan I. Koerner (@brendankoerner) January 15, 2016
The shocking aspect of this year’s lack of diversity is that there were a number of notable films that featured STUNNING performances from black (or non white) actors and actresses. For example:
Or, how about films like these:
Straight Outta Compton gets amazing reviews, breaks Box Office Records, critically acclaimed, and nothing...#OscarsSoWhite— X (@XLNB) January 14, 2016
#OscarsSoWhite that Rocky got nominated in a movie about Apollo Creed's son.— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) January 14, 2016
Now these two films DID get some nominations, but, in a twist, the individuals who received the nominations were white.
One of the results of this year’s nominations is this stunning factoid:
Fifty Shades of Grey has been nominated for more Oscars than people of colour have this year #OscarsSoWhite— Ian D. Sharman (@idsharman) January 14, 2016
If you think that those angry over #OscarSoWhite are overestimating the quality of these films, here’s a reality check.
Straight Outta Compton and Creed both made over $100 million USD at the box office, not always a sign of quality (I’m looking at you Resident Evil #1,456) but a sign that audiences thought they were worth attending.
If it’s a qualitative assessment, try out this comparison: the Screen Actors and Producers Guilds nominated Straight Outta Compton for their top prize and SAG nominated Idris Elba for his role in the Netflix release Beasts of No Nation.
(Pro Tip- Go watch it, it’s incredible).
Other actors many are pointing to as snubs include Samuel L. Jackson in Hateful Eight and Will Smith in Concussion. It is true that the Academy seemed to snub both of those films, but how can the Academy justify that Silvester Stallone should be nominated for Creed but not Michael B. Jordan who played the title character?
Some online are calling for a boycott:
In response to a call for black actors to boycott the Oscars, the creator of #OscarSoWhite said this:
April Reign did say she would be skipping the broadcast this year.
“Instead of watching the Oscars last year, we live-tweeted ‘Coming to America,' and we're going to be doing something similar this year,” Reign said. “The Oscars telecast was the lowest ranked in the last [six] years, and we like to think we had something to do with that.”
And in typical Twitter fashion, the commentary quickly generated some hilarious (and still insightful) comments.
W. Kamau Bell took the snark up a notch:
And potentially the best missing poster ever:
But these were not alone, there were a slew of satirical images and comments. Here are just a few good ones:
Maybe they're doing #OscarsSoWhite again because Hollywood loves sequels— Jessica Goldstein (@jessicagolds) January 14, 2016
Amidst all the anger and satire, perhaps Hollywood will start paying attention, if for no other reason than it is going to be a business necessity.
The #OscarSoWhite movement should be a wakeup call, even though this is the SECOND year it has taken over the internet.
It's actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That's it. #OscarsSoWhite— April (@ReignOfApril) January 14, 2016
The wakeup call needs to go beyond Hollywood. This commenter reminded people that the problem is more than just the entertainment industry:
The Oscars are of course SO WHITE. Know what else WHITE? Almost every publication reporting on how White the Oscars are. LOL. #OscarsSoWhite— Trudy (@thetrudz) January 14, 2016
Whether it’s in Hollywood, in journalism, in the classroom or in the boardroom the path towards true equality needs more commitment. Global Goal 10 is about reducing inequalities. This is important across the world as discrimination hurts communities, economies and humanity. Getting people equal access to opportunities is essential to ending extreme poverty.
A good step is making sure the movies that the world watches actually represent all of us. It’s past time the Academy took note.