While plenty of deserving films and people received Oscar nominations this year, that was overshadowed by the lack of diversity, especially in the most visible acting categories where for the second consecutive year there wasn’t a single non-white nominee. The Academy deserves some blame for the lack of diversity, although it’s important to keep in mind that they’re a reflection of Hollywood, and the real problem isn’t an awards body consciously or unconsciously trying to keep minorities out; it’s that those minorities are never let in by the studios, and that if any serious changes are going to be made, it’s going to need to be at the studio level.
Nevertheless, changing the Academy’s makeup might help a little bit, especially since it’s still primarily comprised of older, white men. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs took to Twitter yesterday to release a statement announcing that the membership might be changing dramatically in the near future. Here’s the statement:
A statement from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs pic.twitter.com/Nqhgc7sbqG
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 19, 2016
Of course, bringing in a more diverse Academy is no guarantee that there will be more diversity in the nominations. Academy members watch the movies that get put in front of them, gladhand the people that play the Awards game, and get swept up in the overall race. There’s a big machine at work, and while I’m glad that Isaacs is doing her part to try and change it, she can only do so much. I expect that there will be at least one or two non-white acting nominees next year (otherwise people will go ballistic), but I hope it will be the beginning of a long-term fix rather than just addressing people’s immediate outrage.