There’s been a hashtag going around you might’ve seen called #OscarsSoWhite. This hashtag was made in response to the lack of diversity in this year’s batch of Oscar nominees. Directors such as Spike Lee and actors like Jada Pinkett Smith are calling for an Oscar Boycott.
While I agree that there are movies out there that may not have deserved the Oscars they were nominated for (Looking at you, Birdman), it’s not like movies with diverse leads have never been nominated before. Last year, Selma was nominated for Best Picture. The year before that, 12 Years a Slave won 3 Oscars.
Straight Outta Compton may not be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s still up for Best Original Screenplay, which is saying a lot because it’s competing against Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, and Spotlight, all of which are really good movies.
So it’s not like the Oscars have never considered films with diversity before. So my first question is “Is this proof of an issue or projecting?”
We have seen evidence that diversity in media can work on its own merits. Biggest example being Hamilton, which is universally appealing, but doesn’t shove its messages of diversity and feminism down the audience’s throat. What makes Hamilton work is the characters, the music, the familiar tragic storyline, and the real message: Legacy depends on your actions and those you leave behind to tell your story. You can’t just go around complaining that people are being unfair and say “Screw you guys, I’ma going home.” I’m not completely sure if boycotts work, but last time I checked, the African-American acting community has their own awards going on.
Not to mention that there’s also this question: What about other ethnicities? America Ferrera and and Eva Longoria made a joke about how Latina actresses get mistaken for other Latina actresses. There are people out there making independent short films and diversity in television, so the constant laments about the lack of diversity in Hollywood aren’t always well-founded.
Hollywood (or at the very least the people of Twitter and Tumblr) can never be satisfied when it comes to representation. It’s crazy enough that a movie like The Danish Girl and Carol are even getting the attention that they’re getting, but according to social media, it’s not enough because the leads aren’t played by trangender/lesbian actors. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually nominated, whereas most of the time, action movies would probably get the snub or just get the token “Special Effects and Sound” nominations. Jennifer Lawrence is nominated for being the lead in a movie about a female entrepreneur and yet it’s not enough. I am mad that Charlize Theron isn’t nominated for Best Actress, though.
You know what I’m actually more angry about when it comes to the Oscars? The fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is still getting attention through one of the songs from the movie getting a Best Original Song nomination. I’m also not a big fan of Chris Rock and I’m already cringing at the jokes that might come from him. I’m also mad that Star Wars: The Force Awakens got the token “Sound Editing/Mixing” and “Best Visual Effects” nominations. Highest grossing movie of the year and you’re just gonna give it those awards? At least give a nod to the actors who played Finn and Rey and Kylo Ren.
If you want to give voice to issues relating to diversity, there are bigger issues to deal with such as why is more attention being given to Donald Trump rather than the more sane presidential nominees? How can we balance out violence caused by the police and the retaliations that happen because of police killing innocent kids? What about abortion and the fact that most abortion clinics are in poor communities and that most babies who are aborted are black?
I’m not completely sure if I’m gonna watch the Oscars. I am rooting for a good number of movies to win. But given the bad taste in my mouth from Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting and the fact that the award show goes on forever, I might just find better uses for my time.