Here’s What Hollywood is Saying About #OscarsSoWhite

oscarssowhite

With the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominations last Thursday, and the  subsequent realization that every acting nominee is white, opinions on the second year of #OscarsSoWhite have been rampant. It’s not just the layman’s reaction or the casual critic’s assesment that have been making the rounds, but all facets of the entertainment community have been weighing in on the issue. Here’s what some Hollywood heavyweights have to say:

The Source

Academy of Motion Pictures’ President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, released a statement on Twitter detailing her personal thoughts on the matter:

While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. … This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Read Boone Isaac’s full statement here.

The Boycott

Several people have come forward to declare and support a boycott on the Oscar ceremony. Their views state the boycott would have both symbolic and financial repercussions.

In a video posted to Facebook, Jada Pinkett Smith offers an alternative:

The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose, to invite whomever they choose and now I think that it’s our responsibility, now, to make the change. Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities and our programs and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called ‘mainstream’ ones.

She then addresses this year’s Oscar host, Chris Rock, and says she will not be attending or watching the event. See her full video here.

Spike Lee shortly follows suit, and explains his feelings on Instagram:

I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. … As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. … People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.

See his full Instagram posts here and here.

Reverend Al Sharpton then weighed in on the matter, detailing the effects of an Oscars boycott:

You must remember that people of color are 40 percent of movie ticket buyers. We are not asking for favors here, we are supporting an industry that has now — between last year and this year and the Amy Pascal incident — locked us out. … I’m not saying that we want to select who is nominated or wins, but if you are telling me out of best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress — out of 40 slots, two years in a row that there are no blacks and no browns rose to a level of being considered, that’s hard to believe. That’s unacceptable. Then I have the right to say, ‘You know what, you can do what you want, but you won’t do it with my support.’ Let’s see if advertisers and others think that you are as attractive to pay those high fees if they know that sizable portions of the population will not be watching your show the night it airs. … As you go across the board and people understand that they don’t have to march, they don’t have to picket, they don’t have to go to Hollywood — all they have to do is turn the dial. If enough people turn the dial, you can move that dial with the Nielsen ratings a couple of points, it will send shivers up the spine of many of the advertisers.

Read Sharpton’s full interview over at The Hollywood Reporter.

The Opportunity

Two Oscar-winning actors, and two on the receiving end of the Oscar snub, called on a lack of opportunity for people of color in Hollywood as a reason behind minority exclusion.

George Clooney reflects:

If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films? … We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.

Read Clooney’s full statement over at Variety.

Idris Elba echoes Clooney’s sentiment in discussing minority stereotypes in film:

We need to counter what everybody has, see the lay of the land and see who has which careers in TV—who makes TV, and who is allowed on TV and when they get the opportunity which roles do they play, on and off screen. You have to ask the question: are black people normally playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?

Elba continues and elaborates on the dream and reality of American diversity. See the clip of his speech over at BBC News.

Whoopi Goldberg offers a root to the problem on her show, The View:

We have this conversation every year and it pisses me off because there are people — there’s not a lot of support for little companies who make movies more diverse than anyone else.You can’t just look at it around Oscar time. You have to say, ‘I am mad,’ and don’t be surprised. … It’s not that the people nominating are too white. The problem is the people who can be helping to make movies that have blacks and latinos and women and all that, that money doesn’t come to you because the idea is that there’s no place for black movies.

Goldberg then specifies why she will not be boycotting the awards show. See the clip from The View here.

David Oyelowo discussed the importance of inclusion in Hollywood:

The reason why the Oscars are so important is because it is the zenith, it is the epitome, it is the height of celebration of artistic endeavor within the filmmaking community. We grow up aspiring, dreaming, longing to be accepted into that august establishment because it is the height of excellence. I would like to walk away and say it doesn’t matter, but it does, because that acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live in. … This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.

Read more of what Oyelowo said over at The Hollywood Reporter.

The Indifferent

Not everyone sees the lack of diversity in Oscar nominees as art reflecting life.

In a heated – and oftentimes personal – reaction to Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott, Janet Hubert (better known as Aunt Viv from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) dismisses the importance of Oscar nominations, while offering Will Smith some perspective:

People are dying, our boys are being shot left and right, people are hungry, people are starving, people are trying to pay bills, and you’re talking about some motherfucking actors and Oscars. And – it just ain’t that deep. …  There are those out there who really deserved a nod and Idris Elba was one of them. Lord have mercy! Beasts of No Nation was incredible that man is an incredible actor. You are not. Maybe you didn’t deserve a nomination. … You know some of us have got mortgages to pay, we got bills to pay, we have bigger shit to worry about than the Oscars.

See Hubert’s video here.

Presidential hopeful Ben Carson threw his opinion in the ring in an email to The Hollywood Reporter:

At the end of the day, the American people have far more important concerns than a few Hollywood elites handing themselves awards. If we paid as much attention to growing the economy as we do to the extravagant, more than $30 million Oscar party the glitterati throw for themselves, we might have fewer families wondering how they’re going to make ends meet.

Read Carson’s full email here.

Surely there are many more opinions being flung around the internet, but these represent a pretty wide array of reactions to the #OscarsSoWhite issue. Regardless of who is right or wrong or shouting the loudest, February 28th will be quite an evening. Of whiteness.

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