Last week, the 87th ACADEMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS were released, and the backlash from communities of color was immediate!!!
ACADEMY Of MOTION PICTURES ARTS And SCIENCES President CHERYL BOONE ISAACS responded to criticisms that the Oscar nominations lack diversity.
While she stated she would love to see more cultural diversity among nominees, she said flatly:
"There is not one central body or group of people that sit around the table and come up with nominations. It really is a peer-to-peer process."The question more of us should be asking is, who are these peers?
The GRIO reports in 2012, the LOS ANGELES TIMES UNMASKED The OSCARS VOTING ACADEMY and found that the voting body of the Academy was nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male, with a median age of roughly 62. Perhaps the first step to seeing more nominations for women and people of color is for diversity to be reflected among the Academy itself, but the Academy has made it even more difficult in recent years to become a qualifying member.
OLD. WHITE. MEN.
The GRIO continues;
The current guidelines are weighted towards people that already have their foot in the door, and they don’t allow for diversity to occur at the rate needed to influence significant change.
Generally, a candidate would have to be a fairly recent Oscar nominee. Another criteria is to be vouched for by a current Academy member. But if you are a black actor or director that isn’t getting enough work in the industry to establish those relationships to begin with, how are you expected to have someone on the inside endorse you? It seems nearly impossible.
Many people were upset about Ava Duvernay being snubbed for her work in Selma, so let’s take a look at the checklist for the Directors Branch of the Academy.
To be considered, an individual must:
Have a minimum of two directorial credits, at least one of which is from the most recent ten years, on theatrical feature films of a caliber which, in the opinion of the executive committee, reflect the high standards of the Academy, and/or have directorial screen credit on a picture nominated for the Academy Directing Award, for the Academy Best Picture and/or for the Academy Foreign Language Film Award, or have, in the judgment of the Directors Branch Executive Committee, otherwise achieved unique distinction, earned special merit or made an outstanding contribution as a motion picture director.
Under these stipulations, DuVernay would qualify only if the Board of Governors determined that her 2012 film Middle of Nowhere reflected the Academy’s “high standards.”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of Beyond The Lights, would also have a near impossible chance at receiving entry. Prince-Bythewood tells stories that go largely ignored by the Academy. She doesn’t make prestige films or movies that cast black characters in a historical context in order to qualify their worth. Instead, her projects are usually contemporary, often romantic and lacking the comedic elements that normally provide levity to romantic films with black casts.
Part of what makes the Oscars so alluring is their air of exclusivity. However, if these shows are seen as the universal benchmark of moviemaking excellence, it’s concerning that their guidelines rely so heavily upon the subjectivity of a mostly male and nearly all white Board of Governors.
The guidelines are publicly available for your review at OSCARS.
From the starting line, the hurdles are carefully and systematically stacked and arranged against COMMUNITIES Of COLOR!!!
A big prerequisite for getting an Oscar is “Academy-quality” theatrically-released work. But a lot of black actors have to go to independent studios to find work.
Would those lower budget productions qualify?
And how many films that do land on the Academy’s radar even cast black actresses?
How many “Academy-quality” movies have roles that center around people of color and our humanity — instead of just using us to support male or white characters?
According to the 2015 ACADEMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS - not many.
All things considered, is 2015 #OSCARSSOWHITE really much of a surprise???
It does seem however, that the current system in place is doing exactly what the creators of the system intended for it to do: maintain the GREAT WALL Of EXCLUSION AROUND THEMSELVES That KEEPS PEOPLE Of COLOR On The OUTSIDE!!!