#OscarsSoWhite | The Outrage Continues; More Boycotts Arise
The most talked-about detail about this year’s Academy Awards nominees is that almost all the nominees in all the major categories are white people. This fact has instigated a firestorm of outrage and rightful indignation over the continuing lack of racial diversity in Hollywood. After films like Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Tangerine, Chi-Raq, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation, Sicario, The Hateful Eight, and Tangerine – all of which featured wholly impressive performances from non-white actors – were all shut out of acting categories, certain stars have been announcing boycotts of the Academy Awards.
As reported by Crave, Jada Pinkett-Smith – wife of Concussion star Will Smith – has officially announced that the Smith family will not be in attendance due to the lack of diversity. Spike Lee, while never using the word “boycott,” has said that he will be at a Knicks game that evening instead, citing that 40 out of 40 of the last two years’ acting categories’ nominations have been given to white people. Lee was awarded an honorary Oscar in November. While it was great to see him get his (over)due, the Oscar community is clearly not listening to the racial messages in many of his films.
Since then, other stars have come forward in support of the boycott, including Quincy Jones. Jones, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter will also be boycotting the ceremony. Jones, 82, who was the Academy Awards’ musical director in 1971 and 1995, and has been encouraging a more open, continued boycott of this year’s Oscar ceremony until diversity can be restored. “There are two ways to do it,” he said. “You can boycott or you can fix it. It’s frightening to see 90 percent white and 80 percent white male.”
April Reign, the founder of last year’s Twitter campaign, #OscarsSoWhite, also supports a boycott, outraged two years in a row by the lack of racial diversity, as also reported in The Hollywood Reporter.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs responded to the lack of diversity in an official statement yesterday, as reported by Crave. Certain Academy Members, such as Penelope Ann Miller, have come forward in defense of their votes, and have said that they did indeed vote for performers of color. It’s just that there weren’t enough of them to get any performers of color nominated. “To imply we are racists is extremely offensive,” she said.
The waters, however, have been muddied by the statements of Clueless actress Stacey Dash, who says that institutions like BET and Black History Month are useless in a world she perhaps sees as being post-racial.
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Other industry insiders, however, have taken a stance of outrage, and acknowledge that something must be done to fix this. Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman has issued a statement, as reported by Variety. “Our community tells a wide array of diverse stories,” he said, “and we are very proud of that. But, we can always push ourselves to be better, and we must.” Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o also made a public statement in Variety, calling for a change.
The only person who has offered a working solution to this mess is Robert L. Johnson, the founder of BET. In Variety, he laid out a simple program to ensure more racial diversity. In short, only four things need to happen: 1) Increase the racial diversity of Academy members, who are still predominantly white. 2) Encourage color-blindness in casting; few characters are written as being a specific race, after all. 3) Encourage studios to hire more minorities as development workers. And 4) Make more movies about black people and black history; destroy the prejudice that more people see movies about white people once and for all. Will these steps work? It wouldn’t hurt to try.
The controversy will continue, unfortunately. Crave will be here to report it.
Top Image: Legendary
Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. He also contributes to Legion of Leia, and Blumhouse. You can follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.