“Blackout” at the Oscars #oscarssowhite
February 10, 2016
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It is Oscar Season! Since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has honored great actors and directors of all backgrounds. But when the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced on January 14, 2016, the Academy received a lot of criticism from movie fans on Twitter with the hashtag “#oscarssowhite” and even from Hollywood actors and directors, most notably Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee.
This is the second consecutive year that the Academy has not nominated any African American actors or directors, despite there being some impressive performances in both 2014 and 2015. The criticism was due to the lack of diversity started last year when the Oscar nominees were announced and when the film Selma was nominated for Best Picture, but director, Ava DuVernay, and the actor who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. , David Oyelowo,(whom both are African descendant) did not get any nominations despite Oyelowo receiving tremendous praise for his portrayal of Dr. King. This year many said that the highly acclaimed film, Straight Outta Compton, deserved a nominee for Best Picture. In the acting category, Will Smith and Michael B.Jordan were the main candidates for nominee choice for their performances in Concussion and Creed. Due to this, many actors, including Will Smith, will not be attending the Oscars. According to cnn.com, host, Chris Rock, has even been pressured to step down as host.
Every year that the Oscars come on TV, the majority of the viewers are adults who are drama fans; not many teenagers watch the Oscars. King/Drew student, Maki Welton, was asked if he watched the Oscars and responded, “No because they don’t show many actors or movies I know”.
Despite not knowing many of the actors that are nominated in the Oscars, students were asked if they knew of any black actors who have either won or been nominated. A lot of them knew of actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Halle Berry, etc. Although the Oscars have given recognition to black actors and directors, white actors still seem to be on the Oscar favorite list. But why does the Academy exclude black actors and directors out of the nominees? Gina Castelo gave her thoughts on this, “I think they might be intimidated by the performances of these actors”. While Bryan Gutierrez said, “I don’t think they [the Academy] want to do it because they select these actors based on who the people want to see nominated [white actors];it’s bad publicity”.
With the ‘#oscarsowhite” trend occurring on Twitter, the Academy responded to the criticism on the so called “blackout” at the Oscars by saying that they will address diversity by doubling its women and minority members by 2020. Many agree that something should be done to acknowledge black actors’ performances and directing.
Is #oscarssowhite favoritism or racism? What is your take on this controversy?