The Coen Brothers think the #OscarsSoWhite backlash is making the Academy Awards seem more important than they actually are.
“By making such a big deal, you’re assuming that these things really matter,” Joel Coen told The Daily Beast. “I don’t think they even matter much from an economic point of view. So yes, it’s true, and it’s also true that it’s escalating the whole subject to a level it doesn’t actually deserve.”
“Diversity’s important. The Oscars are not that important,” he continued. Joel and his brother Ethan have won four Oscars and have been nominated for 10 more. They are up this for Best Original Screenplay for their work on “Bridge of Spies.”
The filmmaking duo also addressed the lack of minority characters in their new film, “Hail, Caesar!”
“Why would there be?” Joel said. “[Why] they would single out a particular movie and say, ‘Why aren’t there black or Chinese or Martians in this movie? What’s going on?’ That’s the question I don’t understand. The person who asks that question has to come in the room and explain it to me.”
“It’s important to tell the story you’re telling in the right way, which might involve black people or people of whatever heritage or ethnicity or it might not,” Ethan said.
“You don’t sit down and write a story and say, ‘I’m going to write a story that involves four black people, three Jews, and a dog,’ right?” Joel said. “That’s not how stories get written. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand anything about how stories get written and you don’t realize that the question you’re asking is idiotic.”
Director Spike Lee announced that he would not attend what he called the “lilly-white Oscars,” while leading entertainment figures Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith announced they will not be attending either.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, herself an African American, issued a statement on Martin Luther King Day promising changes within the group.
“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,” Isaacs said.