The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences

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After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced an all-white line-up of acting nominees last year, April Reign, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com, started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter in response. Many participants hoped that a social media push might impact the way in which studios and Academy voters treated the nomination process this year, but most were not hopeful. They were right: For the second year in a row, the entire slate of Oscar nominees in the acting categories is white. “Creed” and “Straight Out of Compton,” two films with people of color in lead and supporting roles, got nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay — nods that also went to white people. Reign tells me she’s disappointed but not surprised by this year’s nominees. “While Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs attempted to increase the diversity of the Academy by inviting over 300 new members last year,” she says, “more structural and systemic change must occur, not just within the Academy but Hollywood as a whole. The decisions about what films to green light, who tells those stories and how they are told must also be more inclusive of marginalized communities.” This isn’t a new conversation in media, and often insiders respond with an assertion that the reason for the lack of diversity in films is financing (as Ridley Scott did when he defended the majority white casting for “Exodus, Gods and Kings”), an oversight (as was recently asserted by Lionsgate for “Gods of Egypt”) or a desire to focus on a character that the presumably white middle-class audience can identify with, instead of someone who might require them to step outside of their comfort zone. Yet those same audiences have no problem turning TV sh... ... middle of paper ... ...The same is true here, as fans react to the idea that the people best qualified to win awards even for movies that star people of color are the white ones. The push to diversify what movies the Academy considers isn’t about a lack of quality; it’s about broadening the field and making sure the awards mean that the best possible people are being considered. The Oscars are still so white, but the push for diversity isn’t one for a reduction in quality, so why the resistance to change? It should be something that members of the Academy embrace. Unless of course, you consider the distinct reality that the Academy’s choices don’t reflect the biases of a U.S. audience, but instead reflect the biases of an American institution. Why are the Oscars so white? Because the Academy wants them to be that way. And as long as that’s true, at base the awards are essentially worthless.

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