For the first time since 1998, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has nominated all Caucasian actors for the 20 acting slots, creating an easy target for criticism that’s gaining traction on social media and with activist organizations.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite quickly trended on Twitter after the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday morning and logged over 17,000 impressions.
“I’m surprised James Reeb, the white minister in #Selma, wasn’t nominated as best supporting actor. #OscarsSoWhite,” Twitter user @iRondrea tweeted.
“#OscarsSoWhite they haven’t shifted their selection process in 87 years,” tweeted MrPooni, while referencing that when actors of color do garner awards attention, it is for roles in which their characters are subservient to white characters.
Huffington Post provided a handy chart showing that the last time not a single non-white actor was nominated in the 1998 Oscars. In 1999, 2006 and 2009, only one person of color was nominated out of 20, while every year had two or more diverse cast members nominated.
Even in 2007, which was the year with the most diverse acting nominees, white actors still made up 60 percent of the demographic.
Advocacy groups are also weighing in and expressing disappointment over the lack of diversity in Thursday’s nominations.
“Along with many others, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition is disappointed in the glaring lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominations announced this morning, including a complete shut out of people of color in the acting categories and no women nominated in the directing, writing or cinematography categories,” said the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition in a statement to TheWrap.
“This obviously reflects the lack of diversity in Oscar voters as well as in films generally. It behooves Hollywood — as an economic imperative, if not a moral one — to begin more closely reflecting the changing face of America.”
Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, called the nominations “unbelievable.”
“First, it’s a lack of inclusion from filmmakers,” Nogales said, “and then a lack of consciousness from Academy members. I can’t believe the fellow who played Martin Luther King
The only people of color to be nominated in the major categories were writer/director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and his “Birdman” screenwriters, who are Latino.
“The Academy Awards have had 87 years to figure it out — to nominate, award, and affirm the value of artists of color — and still they can’t seem to get it right. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, as early as yesterday the Academy still maintains they do not have a diversity problem. We beg to differ. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which consists overwhelmingly of older white men, has a big problem, both on camera and behind the scenes,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org.
“These awards matter. The Oscars telecast lifts up those considered to be among today’s most important artists and entertainers, resulting in increased financial backing for future projects and the opening of doors and opportunities for those featured. It is time for powerful cultural institutions like the AMPAS — and all other entities that fund a culture that devalues Black art — to recognize the message they’re sending to young people about the worthiness of their stories and images, and take substantive steps towards leveling the playing field in the entertainment industry.”
Below are some examples of the humor and advocacy being displayed in the #OscarsSoWhite Twitter hashtag, which was still trending seven hours after the nominations announcement.