Celebrities and students weigh in on the Oscars’ lack of racial diversity

by Samantha Rosen

Staff Writer

The controversy haunting the 88th Academy Awards, the oldest entertainment awards ceremony, is anything but black and white. With a pool of more than 100 nominees, the Academy nominating committee did not recognize the acting accomplishments of a single African-American, making this the second year in a row only white performers have been nominated.

“I think that in America we have come so far and to have that still be an obstacle that we are still trying to overcome is ridiculous to me,” freshman business management major Angelita Pollard said. “We are recognizing everyone from all backgrounds, sexual and everything, and the fact that minorities aren’t represented in something so prominent in American culture is ridiculous.”

In an effort to boycott the lack of representation, #OscarsSoWhite took over social media after the announcement of the nominees on Jan. 14. The hashtag first appeared on social media last year when people originally expressed their outrage with the lack of minority presence in the nominations. Celebrities including Lupita Nyong’o, George Clooney and Don Cheadle took to the Internet to express their sentiments on the subject. Nyong’o posted on Instagram, “It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture.”

Snoop Dogg, on the other hand, was not so eloquent. He posted a video on Instagram cursing out the situation, stating that he will not be watching the “mother******* Oscars.” Similarly, Spike Lee announced through a long Instagram post that he would also be skipping the annual event, because he felt “We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!!” On Facebook, Jada Pinkett Smith informed the world, including host Chris Rock, she will neither be attending nor watching, believing “that we no longer have to be invited anywhere.” To drive their point home, these announcements all took place on Martin Luther King’s birthday.

Over the years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has faced criticism that its 7,000-plus members who vote on the Oscars are mostly older, white males. Following the outcry, the Academy’s board pledged to double the number of female and minority members by 2020. According to the Oscars’ website, a unanimous vote resulted in “a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies and its voting members significantly more diverse.”

On the other hand, Steven Spielberg, a three-time Oscar winner, criticized the #OscarsSoWhite movement. He said that he sees no “inherent or dormant racism” in the Academy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Furthermore, he does not “100 percent support” the Academy’s rule changes to bring in more diversity.

“Personally, I feel like people need to look at movies more for their merit,” freshman government and politics major Andrew Tawaiah said. “The way that they’re choosing the movies is the way that they feel is socially acceptable for people to watch. People need to look at movies at a whole and not as just at the races of people in it.”

Although the 2015 Oscars received a great deal of criticism for its lack of diversity, it still had over 37 million viewers and the most expensive ad price in history, an average of $1.95 million, according to Forbes. However, it had six million less viewers than the year prior. This year’s award show took place Feb. 28.

“It’s really good that this issue has been brought up,” freshman economics major Mia Carmel said. “The Academy needs to be more diversified and the Academy should not be all white old men. But I think that the media frenzy has gotten out of hand and that the movies that were nominated for Oscars shouldn’t be at a disadvantage because of this issue being recognized.”

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