Oscar Voter Stephen King Says He’d ‘Never Consider Diversity in Matters of Art’

Best-selling author says “diversity issue … did not come up” when he made his nomination picks

Stephen King
Photo credit: Getty Images

Stephen King was the latest in Hollywood to weigh in on the conversation over diversity at the Oscars, and the horror author argued Tuesday that he would “never consider” factoring in diversity when it comes to evaluating art or voting on awards.

King said as a member of the Academy’s writers branch, he was only able to vote on Best Picture and the two screenplay categories, so he wouldn’t have had a say in influencing the lack of racial diversity in the acting categories (which only produced one black acting nominee, Cynthia Erivo) or the lack of women in the directors’ race (five men were nominated for the second year in a row).

“For me, the diversity issue–as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway–did not come up,” King wrote on Twitter. “That said, I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

King’s position of only voting on merit met with some push back online by other writers, feminists and filmmakers who said that King’s take ignores the implicit bias of what’s seen as important or good in the industry and the idea that diversity and quality are separate entities.

“As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things,” writer Roxane Gay said in response. “Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.”

“Me when the privilege protectors get exhausted with mansplaining and whitesplaining @StephenKing‘s tweets to me and decide to move away from my timeline and get a life,” director Ava DuVernay said in a tweet along with a video of “Parasite” director Bong Joon-Ho discovering he got his Oscar nomination.

King later said the real problem is in making sure everyone has a “fair shot” to be nominated and represented in the industry.

“The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts,” King wrote. “You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

For the second year in a row, no women were nominated in the Best Director category when the Oscar nominees were announced Monday morning, with the Academy snubbing filmmakers like Alma Har’el, Lulu Wang, Melina Matsoukas, Lorene Scafaria and most notably Greta Gerwig, whose film “Little Women” received six nominations but not for Best Director.

However, a count of the nominees by TheWrap showed that a record 31% of all the nominees in the field were women, a noticeable increase from last year when just under 28% of the overall nominees were women.

See King’s tweets below along with some responses below: