The presentation of nominees for the 88th Academy Awards Jan. 14 was not met with praise by all. Not only were they met with criticism from moviegoers across the country, but also celebrities and the entertainment industry as a whole.
The criticism stems from the belief that the academy, who is made up of over 5,700 members, have for too long overlooked and have failed to diversify the nominees.
Filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have been the leading voice of opposition since the announcements and have used social media to voice their opinion. An opinion that has gained traction among many other celebrities and notable entertainment figures already. Both have called for a boycott of this year’s Academy Awards and have vowed to not attend this year, according to ABC News.
This is not the first time that the public and entertainment industry have joined together and demanded that something be done. Just last year #Oscarssowhite made the rounds on social media when nominations were announced and is now making the rounds again, as reported by The New York Times.
In 2012, CBS News revealed that 54 percent of the Academy was composed of men over 60 and 94 percent of the Academy as a whole were white. It was also found that 77 percent of the members were male, while the other 23 percent were female. Los Angeles Times corroborated these findings again on Dec. 21 2013 when they too revealed that the Academy was now 93 percent white.
These percentages are the reasoning behind most of the controversy and belief that the lack of diversity in the Academy, leads to a lack of diversity in nominees.
Charlotte Rampling, who is being nominated this year for her role in “45 Years”, drew judgment for suggesting that the reaction to the nominations is “racist to white people”. Rampling went on to say it’s possible that the lack of diversity this time around could simply be because black actors “didn’t deserve to make the final list” (of nominations), as stated in a report by The Guardian.
Rampling later retracted her original comments and said “I simply meant that in an ideal world every performance will be given an equal opportunity
This, more or less, is the belief of the majority who have come out and defended the Academy. Their belief being that this comes down to a matter of performances and artistic display, rather than race.
When questioned about the current public outcry student Francisco Navarro suggested “This has to do with performances”. After being informed about the statistics about who makes up the academy Navarro stated “I guess considering the statistics, I think I understand why people are feeling that it has to do with something else”
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has already responded to and recognized the reasoning behind the criticism and has stated that “we are going to continue this conversation, and we’re going to do more than talk”, according to ABC News.
On Jan. 22, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially announced and pledged to double its membership of women and minorities by 2020 through an ambitious affirmative action plan that includes stripping some older members of voting privilege, CNBC reports.
Francisco Navarro welcomed the incoming changes and said “If there were any underlying factors involved in the outcome of academy winners and nominations, the future results will show”.
The rapid response from the academy shows that there are already steps being taken to ensure the public that that their concerns are being recognized. It also serves as a statement that if indeed the lack of diversity and one-sided composition of the Academy are behind the lack of diversity in nominees, the new changes will be set to alleviate and avoid it.
For now, while some opt out of watching, others in the country and in over 225 countries and territories worldwide will enjoy this year’s Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.