“We are moving in the wrong direction,” actor George Clooney told Variety earlier this week regarding the rising controversy surrounding the recently announced 2016 Academy Award nominations. For the second year in a row there has been a striking lack of diversity in all acting categories, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has surfaced once again as celebrities and fans take to social media to announce their
Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are the latest celebrities to publicly announce their boycotting of the upcoming Oscars. Amid the backlash and demands for an explanation, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Bone Isaacs said she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” in a statement about this year’s nominations.
But are we “moving in the wrong direction” or is this two-year streak of all-white Oscar nominations indicative of a deeply-rooted problem in Hollywood? Some of the most-nominated pictures this year are “The Revenant,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” and “Spotlight.” These were all exceptional films which soared in the box office, but all for the most part had casts lacking in diversity. Performances like Abraham Attah’s in the Netflix original “Beasts of No Nation” and Michael B. Jordan’s in “Creed” were outstanding, just to name a few that were overlooked. Saying “we are moving in the wrong direction” acknowledges the problem, but it isn’t enough. Hollywood in general, and the Academy in particular, need to take a stand to end the lack of diversity in entertainment once and for all. All of this is happening in light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day which happened earlier this week. Here on campus, the University participated in events for the holiday such as SAB’s viewing of the critically-acclaimed movie Selma, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Academy Awards. The holiday serves as a reminder to challenge us to talk about diversity, and in this case it highlighted even more the apparent lack of it in the Oscar lineup.
It is important to remember that we have the right to demand equality in the entertainment we consume. There has been positive change in the entertainment industry but the latest upset in the Oscar nominations highlights that there is still a need to push for equality. The movement from prominent celebrities is promising. Hopefully celebrities taking a stand will finally encourage more much-needed positive change.