Tag Archives: academy awards 2015

Does The Academy Have a Duty To Represent Diversity?

Should the Oscars Better Represent Divsersity?

The internet loves a good kick off, doesn’t it? If it’s not about freedom of speech over potentially blasphemous material then it’s Cadbury’s changing their Creme Eggs (location specific, that one). Of course, the most pertinent issue right now is the 87th Academy Awards, or as we peasants call them, the Oscars.

Now, we always get the usual ‘film X should have been nominated’ or ‘film Y shouldn’t have been nominated’ or ‘how on earth did Bradley Cooper get nominated again?’, but this time there’s a slightly more contentious issue – the lack of diversity in the nominations.

More specifically, it’s the lack of female and non-white nominations, particularly in the ‘major’ categories. But does the Academy have a duty to diversify its nominations or have we made a lotta something outta a lotta nothing?

First of all, we all know that the Oscars doesn’t truly represent the year of film and so they’re never really going to be that diverse anyway. The fact that the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category even exists is proof of this. There are always films made by men and women of various races and ethnic backgrounds that don’t get a look in, so why are we really surprised that it’s not a particularly diverse year?

Now let’s rewind to last year. Amongst the winners were a a film made by a black director (Steve McQueen), a black woman (Lupita Nyong’o) and Jared Leto winning for playing a transgender character. Not hugely diverse given the number of overall nominees and winners but there is diversity in there, and amongst the big categories, too.

Ava Duvernay

Ava Duvernay, director of Selma

Onto this year and there isn’t a single black nominee in any of the acting categories. Only Ava Duverny represents any kind of diversity in the main categories for Selma in the Best Picture character, but other than that everything is a whiter shade of pale. There are, however, several women nominated in the Actress in a Leading Role and Actress in a Supporting Role categories.

On a serious note, why is this? It’s difficult to say and it would take a much deeper digging than I am capable of or can be bothered doing. It’s likely a much more complicated issue than simply saying the Academy are white or male biased – although that’s not to say there isn’t some truth to that! You need to look at production companies, agents, producers, sponsors, and probably just about every other aspect of filmmaking. We don’t really know how much pressure the Academy is under, if any, to choose particular films over other.

But here’s the question… should the Academy be duty bound to represent diversity? Those making the nominations may argue that the films, actors and actresses they have chosen really are the best this year, and if that’s really the case then should they be made to change their nominations to include a more diverse selection? Perhaps the make up of Academy members or the voting process needs looking at, or should there even be other categories created to represent the under represented?

It could well be that this year is somewhat of an anomaly, albeit a slightly worrying one, and that next year the nominations will be more diverse. But what if they’re not? Does it matter? The Oscars already alienate a lot of people, so let’s hope they don’t make it even worse.

What do you make of this year’s Oscar nominations? Is the lack of diversity an issue and if so, what should they do about it?

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