The Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, have repeatedly received backlash from both viewers and actors for failing to diversify nominees. For the second year in a row, all nominations were for white actors.
The Oscars has a huge problem with racism and lack of diversity. The entire system is extremely flawed. Since the first Academy Awards in 1928, the award show has nominated a great majority of white actors. According to TIME magazine, only 6.7 percent of acting nominees were non-white.
In a 2012 study conducted by the LA Times, it was discovered that Oscar voters are 94 percent Caucasian and that Caucasians make up 90 percent or more of all of the Academy’s 15 branches.
On Jan. 14, Oscar nominations were announced and the Academy’s failure to nominate any people of color (POC) was glaring. Viewers are outraged and some in the film industry have publicized their decision to boycott the Oscars this year.
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee both announced that they would not be attending or watching the 2016 Oscars. Actress Lupita Nyong’o added to the criticism by releasing statements about disappointment with the lack of black or minority actors and George Clooney accused the Academy Awards of “moving in the wrong direction,” according to BBC.
The number of outstanding POC actors and actresses was not small or at all insignificant this year: Standout performances include Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation,” Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hateful Eight,” Michael B. Jordan in “Creed,” and the standout film “Straight Outta Compton.” The latter two did receive nominations, but those went to a white actor (Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”) and white directors (“Straight Outta Compton”), despite all movies starring and focusing on African Americans and black lives.
The lack of diversity shows blatant racial bias and undermines stellar actors in successful movies if they’re black or belong to a minority group. This reflects very poorly on the Academy and highlights its racist system. The diversity problem can be traced back to issues with the movie industry, which is mostly white, and the sub-par advertising for movies that starred nonwhite actors.
Bottom line: The Oscars’ diversity problem is indeed a problem and to think otherwise is ignorant. In a country that prides itself on being a melting pot of culture and diversity, the complete absence of non-white nominees for the Oscars (which is the United States’ biggest awards ceremony for cinematic excellence) is appalling and sends the wrong message about race.
The hashtags #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsSoDumb have popped up all over the Internet recently. Let’s hope they don’t resurface in 2017.
Carina Wang, Staff Writer
Sophomore Carina Wang is a staff writer for the 2015-2016 Colonel. She is on the FIRST Robotics team.