Some insiders say this is a ridiculous debate. Here’s why they’re wrong, and how you can help change things
Behind the scenes, I’m hearing lots of conversations about the supposed silliness of the #OscarsSoWhite protest.
I’m hearing insiders — people who know how the Oscars work, who know the landscape of this year’s films, who care about diversity but understand you can’t snap your fingers and make it happen — saying this is a ridiculous debate.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is made up of 6,261 individual voters who vote for the best, most deserving work in the movie industry every year. It’s fair to believe that those individuals vote their conscience, and take their responsibilities seriously. We know many of those individuals, they’re really good people. They believe in diversity.
But as a group, they’re 94 percent Caucasian. Fact.
The other reality is that there were not enough standout performances in 2015 from people of color — African-Americans, Latinos, and, my God when does someone finally mention the absence of Asians? — in 2015. We all know that the acting nominees, all of them white for the second year in a row, are extremely deserving.
Yes, there are performances that might have made the cut. But while Idris Elba gave a strong performance in “Beasts of No Nation,” he probably didn’t get nominated because not enough people thought his performance was better than those of the nominees. It had nothing to do with his being black.
But it probably had something to do with the fact that it was a brutal movie about an African warlord that not enough AMPAS members were in a hurry to watch.
The Spike Lees and Michael Moores of the world — both filmmakers are boycotting the Oscars over the lack of nominees of color — understand these reasons perfectly well.
But what’s happening here is about the bigger picture. It’s not about the micro reasons why there are no black nominees — there’s always some reason, some perfectly good excuse. After watching this issue and chronicling it for nearly two decades, it’s clear to me that the African-American community as a whole is just plain tired of having to fight this battle.
Tokenism isn’t the way. Voting for people of color just because doesn’t cut it. There’s a fatigue with the whole system. Those who want change have had it with the lip service and the earnest promises and the only occasional triumphs — like those of Halle Berry, “Twelve Years a Slave,” Ava Duvernay and David Oyelowo — which now give way to two years in a row of all-white nominees.
I think people of color are just fed up, and they want a change. Thankfully, the Academy has Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the helm. She heard the frustration and made a bold statement promising “big changes.”
We all want to see them, and that probably means the Academy admitting an extraordinary number of minority (and women, please!) members in the coming year.
To that end, TheWrap is soliciting from our readers potential candidates for admission to AMPAS — people who will make the group more diverse and broaden its perspective. Please email or tweet us your suggestions and include the names and professions of the candidates with the hashtag #MakeOscarsDiverse.
We look forward to your playing a role in bringing real, definitive change to the most important body that represents the movie industry.