Academy President 'Disappointed' That The Oscars Are Really White Again
Another year, another #OscarsSoWhite backlash.This year's Oscar nominees were announced on Thursday morning, and once again the response has largely pointed out that, for the second year in a row, the nominees are practically all white.
"Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest. Sorry, brightest," Neil Patrick Harris said at the opening of last year's ceremony. It sounds like Chris Rock might have a freebie joke to use when he hosts this year.
Despite critical acclaim and box office success for black films likes like Creed and Straight Outta Compton, and pushes for actors like Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Will Smith (Concussion), and Idris Elba (Netflix's Beasts Of No Nation), the entire acting field was all-white for the second year in a row. Creed received only a Best Supporting Actor nod for Sylvester Stallone, and Straight Outta Compton received only a Best Original Screenplay nomination for their white screenwriters. Neither Creed director Ryan Coogler or Compton director F. Gary Gray were nominated.
"Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness [of the films nominated]," Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Deadline. "This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board. You are never going to know what is going to appear on the sheet of paper until you see it." Last year Isaacs said—in response to last year's #OscarsSoWhite backlash—that she was looking forward to see "a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories."
"The numbers are dismal... But it’s also truth," What Happened, Miss Simone? director Liz Garbus, who was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, told the L.A. Times. "It's the truth about where the money is going and who's getting the jobs and who is getting the support." Indeed, Hollywood has a problem with representation, but the trend is positive—especially in television.
"On every measure, film is a couple steps behind TV," Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies told the Times. "This is, unfortunately, a reflection of the Academy itself. The Academy is white and male, so we have a taste culture that's only going to recognize certain types of projects."
With Creed's lone nomination in Stallone, The New Yorker's Richard Brody writes it "filters out the blackness from Coogler’s remarkable drama about the modes and ironies of black American experience and reduces the film to 'Rocky 7.' That distortion says much about the Academy—much that the Academy wouldn’t like to acknowledge about itself."
On the other hand, specific branches within the film industry have been quicker about recognizing work outside the white male paradigm, as Vulture's Kyle Buchanan points out:
Remember, Oscar voters are overwhelmingly white, male and old.