There’s a lot of fuss being made over the lack of “diversity” in this year’s (and last year for that matter) Academy Award nominations. As with anything that I have an opinion on, I try to look at both sides as objectively as possible and then come to a reasonable conclusion. So let’s look at it from the perspective of both sides.
In short, there are roughly 6,000 members of the Academy and each member can only cast one vote in their area of expertise. For example, in the Best Director category, only movie directors can choose the nominees. For Best Actor, only other actors can choose these nominees and so on and so on for each respective category. Then there is a vetting process in which the nominees are narrowed down to the select few names that we hear read aloud on the actual night of The Oscars. If you’re not familiar with how nominees are selected, you should take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the process by clicking this link.
Given the number of films made each year, all having the potential of being nominated, and the number of actors, directors, etc. within those individual films, it almost seems like you would need to conspire with your fellow voters to get ANY one film, director or actor, more than a handful of votes. Now take into account how few of those films were either written by, directed by or starred people of color. Furthermore, of those screenplays, directors and actors, how many were actually good enough to be nominated?
- Their flawed voting system that needs to change. It’s probably a bit unfair to label the Academy as completely racist. That’s just too simple of an answer.
- Their membership isn’t very diverse, so how can you expect a diverse selection of nominees. I can bet there aren’t a lot of aged Caucasian gentlemen sitting around watching Straight Outta Compton
- The bigger problem may not be that there isn’t enough diversity in the nominations (you wouldn’t want someone nominating you simply for the sake of diversity I would hope) but that not enough films “by” and starring minorities are being greenlit by production studios. It sounds to me like people should be boycotting the box office, not The Oscars. I bet they’ll pay attention then.
Now for the jilted artist point of view. If you’re like me, you’re having a hard time mustering up sympathy for a bunch of millionaires whining about award shows. Part of me wants to tell them to get a friggin grip and look what’s going on in the world around them. Citizens of Flint, Michigan are being charged for poisonous water. Donald Trump is about to be President of the United States. Young Thug has a new album coming out. There are bigger fish to fry here people… but let’s hear them out.
Being nominated or more importantly, actually winning an Academy Award serves a lot of different purposes to an *artist (*director, actor, writer, etc.). For one, an Oscar on your resume means you can demand better roles. I imagine that this is why the script to Pootie Tang never made it to Meryl Streeps agent. Better roles sometimes mean more money, more artistic freedom, which is just another way of saying that you’ve earned more respect… which is what I believe they are really after. Also, being nominated for an Oscar is one the ways in which someone may be granted membership into that elite voting club where their voices can be heard.
I know most people can relate to this. Imagine you’ve worked at a job for years. Mastered your craft, but year after year you fail to get promoted while your peers have shot right passed you. Even though you worked every bit as hard as them, why are you not being recognized for your efforts? Wouldn’t you feel slighted too?
Or imagine you went to a 4 year college and after graduating you didn’t receive a degree even though you completed all of the same curriculum as your fellow graduates.
I’m over simplifying, of course. And by no means am I suggesting that EVERYONE should get or is worthy of getting a nomination. God knows that I’m not one of those politically correct “everyone gets a participation award just for showing up” type of people. All I’m saying is that this is their chosen profession, their trade, their craft. They work hard at it and would like the same recognition that any of us would.
So here are some take-aways for all sides. To The Academy, fix your voting and membership system. It seems to be flawed. There has to be a better way.
To the studios, take some of the money you make from the 17 comic book related movies you put out every year and throw some back to the little guy before you find out that #BlackPocketsMatter
To the angry artist, I think I get it, but I still feel like you’re trying way too hard to be accepted by people or organizations that may not want to have anything to do with you. If there are 3 things I’d like to see you STOP doing in 2016 it’s this. Stop keeping up with the Kardashians. Stop listening to anything by Young Thug and please, please, please stop weighing your self-worth on scale that was not built for you.
As the Facebook poet L’ Meme once said, “Your value doesn’t decrease because of someone’s inability to see your worth.”
/Random/ OH! And before I forget… Benicio Del Toro is NOT Black. /Not So Random/