by G. Brown
It’s become an annual ritual. Oscar nominations are announced. People of color again shut out. Hashtags and rants surge on social media as people threaten to boycott the awards and complain.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat in 2020. The nominations for the 91st Oscars were recently announced by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences(AMPAS) recognizing excellence in cinematic achievements. This year, like last year, the year before that and etc., the list of nominees is suffering from a lack of melanated skin.
Entertainment news sites like Deadline say “the nominations for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards are basically #OscarsSo WhitePart 2:” An editorial in the LA Times criticizes “The Oscars are still so white. And male...”
It’s been five years since #OscarSoWhite first called out The Academy for shutting out Blacks, people of color and women in major categories such as Best Actor, Actress, and Best Film. The Academy immediately responded with a lot of chatter about getting more Blacks and people of color involved to nominate…yada, yada, yada.
And five years later, we finally are seeing change. Now, not only are fewer Blacks still being nominated, women are being lumped into the shutouts.
Since its inception in 1929, The Oscars has always been accused of favoring white Hollywood. Statistics show dating back to 1929, “…only 6.4% of academy award nominees have been non-white.”(Wiki) And that more “white actresses have won Oscars for yellowface portrayals of Asian characters than actual Asian actresses.”
And the trend continues into 2020. Noticeably missing from the nominees’ list this year are ethnically diverse movies like “Dolemite Is My Name” and award-worthy performances by actors like Eddie Murphy(“Dolemite Is My Name”) and Jennifer Lopez(“Hustlers”). The LA Times says “only one person of color — actress Cynthia Erivo, who plays Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” — among the 20 nominees in acting categories.”
So how can Hollywood fix its diversity problem? The answer is easy–“if the Oscars are going to be more diverse, what’s needed is for the industry to be more diverse.”(LA Times) That’s the easy fix, but one that’s on the same clock as fame-it’s doesn’t come overnight.
Until change arrives, perhaps actors and actresses should adopt Viola Davis’ perspective. The “How To Get Away With Murder” star says “I think that there’s a lot of very important things that are happening in the world other than Oscar nominations. A lot of deeper things that’s happening in the world.”
Davis continued saying, “When I entered this business, I did not enter it with awards in mind. I entered it to be a storyteller and to be an artist, and I think that’s what we need to focus on. We need to focus on creating really awesome movies that tell diverse stories with people of color in them, and then we can go from there.”
Awards and commendations are nice nods of approval from our peers, but nobody ever takes a job saying ‘I’m only here for that employee of the month’ recognition. Hollywood is slow to change…91 years of giving out awards and it’s still leading to hashtags like #OscarSoWhiteandMale.
Still complain about the injustices in the meantime…and enjoy the movies you prefer. People like Murphy and Lopez may be snubbed by the awards, but fans are rewarding them with streaming views and box office receipts.