The call for an Oscars boycott has come at a time when the film industry is grappling with a lack of diversity and the Academy faces strong criticism over its voting processes.
Despite the tremendous achievements of African-American, Latino and Asian filmmakers, for years minority groups have been underrepresented in the workforce across the entire industry. The Academy has tried to address the voting process and diversify its membership however the films in contention for the Oscars still remain incredibly un-diverse. This is something the Academy can’t address alone.
Many are upset that none of the actors from the critically acclaimed “Straight Outta Compton” were given a nomination. Michael B. Jordan was left out of the mix for his superb performance in “Creed” while Ryan Coogler didn’t make the shortlist either despite directing one of the best films of the past year. However, the young African-American director recently signed on to Marvel’s “Black Panther” and will continue to succeed in his career. What about others who don’t even have the opportunity to work in a film and haven’t got a foot in the door? Who is speaking for them in this boycott?
The Oscars is a reflection of the film industry as a whole, and illustrates so clearly that there is a real industry-wide lack of diversity that has plagued Hollywood for many years. However these issues are being addressed and production companies are making significant changes to the way they hire people, but it can’t be fixed overnight.
I commend those that are speaking out and sharing their views on what changes need to be made. This is a conversation the whole industry needs to have but abandoning the Oscars and going through with a boycott will affect people of all backgrounds and ethnicities that benefit from the media exposure the Oscars provide. It will also divide rather than unite the industry on the issue and create an atmosphere of hostility instead of bringing about a positive change.
There has also been some debate about Oscar voters being “racist” in their voting choices. why is this being brought up? Since when does a film opinion have to be directly tied to race? If a performance is good or not in your opinion would you weigh up the color of the actor’s skin to make the final call? This is the kind of upsetting talk that is tearing apart what should ultimately be a celebration of filmmaking. I don’t believe for a second that Oscar voters intentionally vote for “White only” actors.
Clearly there are some that are upset about the way this year’s nominations turned out, but why should all those people being considered for the Oscar this year be punished too? Instead we should be working to create more opportunities for minorities and women with real action, not words.
I urge people that have called for a boycott to attend the Oscars and make their opinions heard privately and even on the stage if need be. There are many successful Hollywood figures that could also provide donations to help bring in a new generation of talent. George Lucas is one of those figures who has set a great example by funding scholarships for African-American and Latino students, and others could take decisive action right now to help filmmakers make their mark.
Overall there is goodwill in the wider film industry to create a more inclusive workforce but it will take time. For now let’s celebrate without prejudice the films that have been chosen this year and work on solving these inequalities together. Everyone deserves their chance at success and recognition no matter what their background or ethnicity is. These ideals should be part of the fabric of the film industry and it’s time to make it happen.