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#OscarsSoWhite – again

Outrage over Oscar nominees rages on


The current controversy of the white-washed Oscar nominations has reached an all-time high. Actors including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are threatening to skip the ceremony altogether and others, including Matt Damon, are accusing the Academy The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of being “shameful and embarrassing.” This is the second year in a row that the nominations have been overtaken by white actors, posing the question of whether this is an awards issue or a Hollywood issue.

While there’s debate over whether any black actors deserved nominations, the outrage seems to be geared towards the Idris Elba snub. It appears there weren’t a slew of actors that were ignored for their award-winning performances, but rather there were less to choose from for the nomination. This could be a statement about Hollywood itself, and how fewer opportunities are presented to black actors therefore providing fewer opportunities to win awards.

It’s important to note that the most controversial category is “Best Actor” and “Best Actress,” which are two of the more difficult categories to win behind “Best Picture.” While there may have been actors who deserved a nomination, like Michael B. Jordan for “Creed,” the nomination is inherently difficult, especially for a young actor.

In Hollywood, movie-making is geared towards certain audiences. There were many movies this year, from “Mad Max” to “The Big Short” that were full of white actors and left few parts to other races. These films were regarded as action films or dramas, whereas other films such as “Ride Along 2” are seen as black comedy. Because the latter film is geared towards a smaller target audience, it is less likely to find success during awards season.

Those who have come out saying they will skip the ceremony – such as the Smiths and Spike Lee – aren’t necessarily helping the issue. Lee’s comments about Hollywood have some validity to them, but he has no personal stake in the Oscars. Will Smith may just be bitter about not being nominated for “Concussion,” but isn’t it possible the veteran actor just lost out to a younger crowd or that he has lost his touch?

Chris Rock, the host of this year’s Oscars, seems to have the best grip on the situation. Instead of choosing to boycott, Rock has stated he will address the situation in his monologue. Because Rock is a longtime, incredibly famous actor and comedian, his words will hold weight to them and will give a mature voice to the controversy.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, has issued a statement about the awards, stating she was “heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion” in the nominations. It’s clear that she is trying to address the issue so many are giving her backlash for. The Academy announced on Jan. 22 that it plans to double its number of women and minority members by 2020 and launch a global effort to "recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity,” according to The Economic Times. Isaac said that the change in diversity has been a work in progress and that she hopes to see more results in time.

Time will only tell whether or not the Academy will be able to fix the deep-rooted issues within it’s members or whether these nominations will serve as a wake-up call for Hollywood producers and directors alike. It will be interesting to see who wins in these categories, as well as the others in which more diverse actors are nominated.

The editorial board can be reached at eic@ubspectrum.com.


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