Awards Season is upon us. Every year everyone everywhere is buzzing with news surrounding the various awards shows, specifically the Academy Awards, this year taking place on February 28th. The nominations for the categories have been released, and while most of the films, actors, and production crews are well deserving of the nominations, something about them has not gone unnoticed.
This year’s Academy Awards is going to be the least culturally diverse show since 1998. The nominations recognize a range of movies and performances throughout the past year. However, they fail to nominate almost anyone in the main acting or directing categories who is not white. As a result, the Twitter hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” has exploded.
To put into perspective how the Academy Awards work, the winners and nominees are completely determined by what’s called The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The members of The Academy represent various categories within their fields such as acting, directing, cinematography, writing, sound, etc. It isn’t a secret that The Academy is comprised by a majority of white men, and a majority of individuals over the age of 50, giving films that feature stories pertaining to people like them a better chance, as unfair as that sounds.
Over the years, it is astounding how many milestones we have hit so recently in terms of people of colour winning these awards, or simply being recognized. It wasn’t until 2002 that Halle Berry became the first black woman ever to win the award for Best Actress.
No black person has ever won in the category of Best Director, though people had high hopes for Selma director Ava DuVernay who was not even nominated in the 2015 awards.
This year, there were numerous films starring and created by people of colour who should have been given more recognition. An obvious example would be Creed, whose lead actor, Michael B. Jordan, and director, Ryan Coogler, were both not nominated in their categories. However, Sylvester Stallone was nominated for his role in the movie in the Best Supporting Actor category.
In both the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, there were absolutely no men of colour nominated, even though this year’s films have included large talents like Michael B. Jordan, Samuel L. Jackson, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega. Similarly in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, women like Tessa Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mya Taylor, and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez have gone overlooked.
This is a problem that feeds off of itself. Although there are actors who could have been nominated, overall there simply aren’t enough roles for people of colour being created so actors can present their talents and be awarded for them.
Already there are people planning on boycotting the ceremony such as actress Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee, in protest of The Academy’s faults.
The actors and movies nominated this year should be given credit and the praise they deserve for the talents presented; however, it is important to recognize the faults and flaws of the awards system. #OscarsSoWhite is more than just a hashtag: it points to a real problem that should be recognized as one.
To see a complete list of the 2016 Oscar Nominees, visit The Oscars website.