Are the Oscars Neglecting Films with Ethnically Diverse Backgrounds?

kim kardashian

Among some of the films expected to bring home awards at the upcoming Oscar include; Boyhood, Selma, Whiplash, The Imitation Game, American Sniper, and Birdman. A group of movies, which truly deserve to be, acknowledged within the film community as works of art that will be remembered by the motion picture industry.

While these films have made an impact on our culture, controversy has erupted because the lack of ethnicity amongst nominees. This year it’s being claimed that it’s the “whitest year” for the award show since 1998 because there were only white actors nominated.

Selma, the biopic depicting Martin Luther King Jr. only received two nominations, one for best picture and the other for best original song.

While social media and the news have reporting about the lack of diversity among nominees, Reverend Al Sharpton has called for an emergency meeting with his “diversity task force” about the issue.

In a statement the Reverend stated, “The lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling, and while it is good that ‘Selma’ was nominated for Best Picture, it’s ironic that they nominated a story about the racial shutout around voting while there is a racial shutout around the Oscar nominations. With all of the talent in ‘Selma’ and other Black movies this year, it is hard to believe that we have less diversity in the nominations today than in recent history.”

It is important to remember who the key decision makers are and how they choose the nominees. The “academy” that is responsible for deciding is mostly composed of those who have participated in the production and development of films over the past few years, with 50 percent of them having been seen on screen over the past two years.

The academy which is made up of some of the biggest names in Hollywood such as; Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, are joined along with others who have not worked in the film industry for some time now.

While a large majority of the voters are not publicized and known, the academy expressed how they choose the nominees based on achievement and their decisions are not based on promoting diversity.

There are a lot of potential questions that can be raised about the Oscars regarding our society and how it is depicted as almost all white this year. Could it be that as a society we are moving backwards, or is it the academy has decided to neglect the voice of ethnically diverse films for a reason?

While the media may say that these questions raised are true, as a society we need to remember that this award show recognizes films that deserve to be there. None of the allegedly white films do not deserve to be there, and while there may be ethnic films released this year maybe they did not meet the same standards that the rest of the films captured.

Cheryl Isaac Burke, the Academy’s female African American president does not believe there is a diversity problem when she stated to The Vulture, “No, not at all. The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it’s being discussed, and it’s helpful so much for talent — whether in front of the camera or behind the camera — to have this recognition, to have this period of time where there is a lot of publicity, a lot of chitter-chatter.” She believes the talent speaks for itself, and that is a true fact, it is not the filmmaker’s background or message that is being awarded, it is the talent and the final products.

Racial equality remains to be a sensitive subject and a matter that most concern themselves about, and they should. But when it comes to a subject like this, which involves commemorating the entertainment industry, the academy does not have anything to particularly gain from choosing these films, but they are basing their decisions because they were the films that were consensually chosen to be the most groundbreaking films that were released.


Photo: Harpo Films

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