Rev. Al Sharpton takes “some credit” for the drop in ratings of this years Oscars after his civil rights organization, National Action Network, protested Sunday’s telecast.
“For the last several weeks since the day [the Academy] came out with the nominations, we’ve been on airwaves and social media asking people to tune out [of the Oscars],” Sharpton told TheWrap on Monday. “That’s why we take some credit for the numbers going down.”
The 88th Academy Awards drew 34.3 million viewers, a 6.3 percent drop from last year and the third lowest total in history. Sharpton and NAN protested the show to highlight the “unfairness of the makeup of the Academy and the resulting nominations,” setting up near the Dolby Theatre where the ceremony took place.
“In five cities yesterday, we had something that we call unity circles, where we had people gather in a circle to put the Academy Awards specifically — and generally the film industry — on notice that we are tired of empty promises,” he added. “Last year, when the top awards were only nominated white, we came out publicly raising the unfairness of the makeup of the Academy and the resulting nominations. They said, ‘give us time, we will correct it.’ That didn’t happen.”
As a result, NAN went a step further and asked the public to tune out of this year’s broadcast.
“We wanted to dramatize this year by calling on people to tune out and not to watch the show, and for some people to join us in these unity circles,” said Sharpton. “It was the lowest viewership in eight years, and I don’t think we deserve all the credit, but we certainly helped out with some of it.”
Sharpton walked his talk and “didn’t watch a minute of [the Oscars], not even with one eye closed.” He added that he heard about Chris Rock‘s monologue, in which the comedian addressed some hard truths with jokes, anecdotes and a few insults.
Rock commented on the backlash over 2016’s exclusively white acting nominees, and the institution’s overwhelmingly white male membership body.
#OscarsSoWhite began resurfacing on Twitter when the Academy failed to nominate a single person of color for the second year in a row. Outrage over the lack of diversity prompted stars and filmmakers like Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Moore and Spike Lee to publicly withhold attending the ceremony this year.
The Academy had pledged to make “substantive” changes to its member makeup, seeking to double the number of women and further diversify AMPAS membership by 2020. However, Sharpton, who has received “empty promises” from the Academy before, believes not even Rock’s turn as host could save the ratings from slipping this year.
“They went all out,” said Sharpton of the Oscars. “They went and got Chris Rock and all that, but they got the worst results in almost a decade. They need to understand that people are not buying it.”
However, Sharpton is not just taking credit for “one press conference” they had, but instead mentioned that NAN’s 102 chapters have “worked on this since the nominations were announced.”
“I think we deserve some of the credit for taking them down because it matters if it leads to systemic change in the makeup of the Academy and whether we can make the studios bring in, at the decision-making levels, people of color.”