By Molly Risk
With one of the most well-known and prestigious award shows coming up on February 28th, there has been some controversy around who has been nominated to win an Academy Award this year. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been trending everywhere on social media recently. Some people are astonished at the nominees for this year’s show, and how little diversity there is. However, there are two sides to every story, including the Oscars.
Many people, both actors and non-actors, have been protesting this years Oscar nominations. They say that the lack of diversity in the nominations is no mistake. Actors such as Will Smith have planned to sit out and boycott this event. Smith and many others believe there was an intentional choosing of white people to be nominated for the Oscars for the past two years; many people accuse the Academy and its board of directors of racism. However, many also believe that it is not the board of directors that is making these racist choosings, but it is the film companies and hiring businesses that don’t let in diversity in the first place.
Actors and actresses have been reacting differently to this issue as well. Although Will Smith has been nominated for several Academy Awards, he has never won. He has, however, won several BET Awards, and has been nominated for many other Black Movie Awards and Black Reel Awards. On the other side, Jamie Foxx does not seem to think this a big deal; he does have an Oscar, though.
Whoopi Goldberg does not feel that boycotting the Oscars would be respectful to Chris Rock, the host of this year’s event. She further states that if people feel strongly about this, they need to be more vocal about the issues all year long, not just for this event. She cites a lack of funding as another reason for low diversity in films.
These contributing factors have made it seem as if the Oscars are really bigoted and have not seen diversity in a few years. The facts are that about 73% of the actors in 2015 to star in highly rated box office movies were white, 5% were Asian, 5% were black, and the remaining 4% were other ethnicities. African Americans have won 10% of awards, including Oscars, so it is proportional to the amount of black actors and actresses in Hollywood; the African American acting population has won around 35 Oscars. However, this has been over a period of 87 years, which sparks curiosity as to why there haven’t been more Oscars handed to black people? This applies to other ethnicities as well, because in the past 87 years it has been primarily white people.
These questions do not have one answer, but many different opinions and views. Some people believe there is behind-the-scenes racism and bigotry, and others believe the facts and numbers back up why other ethnicities haven’t won as much. Perhaps it is behind-the-scenes of acting companies, or maybe it is just how everything worked out. The board of directors has recently talked about how to solve the diversity problem, and they have now established a goal to double their minority membership by 2020. This could help, and it may lead to different nominees and award winners. This diversity issue and the #OscarsSoWhite talk have been running around, and only time can tell when everyone will be content and satisfied with how diversity is played out in the Oscars.