Oscars, So White

The Academy is once again being showered with criticism for the lack of African-American award nominees.

For the second consecutive year, controversy has ignited over the lack of black artists nominated for awards from the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the famous Oscars. On social networks, people have been using the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, since certain performers expressed their indignation that not a single African-American man or woman is found among the nominees. Jada Pinkett called for a boycott the moment the list of nominees was announced and the name of her husband, Will Smith, who seemed to be among the favorites, did not appear anywhere. Spike Lee, the great director, immediately called for a change to the rules of the game.

And since then, there has been an overwhelming amount of criticism and calls not to set foot in the awards ceremony — calls that are incidentally supported by the extremely high quality of a pair of productions starring African-American actors, “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton.” Such that, even the Academy itself has been forced to recognize that its awards will have to reflect diversity.

Of course, at the center of the situation are the 6,300 members [of the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] who in recent years have not recognized any black artist, but who staunchly defend themselves, invoking the nature* of all of the votes, as well as the absence of many professional world-class white people among the 2016 nominees, and the 13 awards and 32 nominations that African-American actors have received, from Hattie McDaniel for “Gone with the Wind” (1939) to Mo’Nique for “Precious” (2009).

However, this crisis – which threatens to brand this year’s ceremony – is especially owed to the emphasis that Hollywood has been placing on its blockbusters, to a system used to supporting Caucasian stars and the rebelliousness of the members of the Academy against political correctness — and the fame of racists — which on certain occasions has forced them to choose forgettable films. It is a pity that this is the news in a year full of wonderful Hollywood films.

*Editor’s Note: The author’s use of the word “nature” here is ambiguous. The “nature of the votes” may be referring to where the votes come from, or more specifically, from whom. The members of the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are mostly white, and including more diverse members is difficult because bringing in new members is a complicated process that involves being nominated by current members.

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