The 20 Oscar nominees for the top acting awards are all White – for the second year in a row. #OscarsSoWhite, as Twitter puts it. On January 14th 2016, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for the Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, considered the top film awards in the US.
By the numbers: % non-Hispanic White:
- 54% US ticket buyers (2015),
- 56% US in 2030 (projected),
- 60% US in 2020 (projected)
- 64% US in 2010,
- 69% US in 2000,
- 74% cast of Hollywood films (2013, the 100 top grossing films),
- 76% US in 1990,
- 80% US in 1980,
- 84% US in 1970,
- 85% US in 1960,
- 88% US in 1950,
- 93% Best Actor winners (1927-2012),
- 94% the Academy (2016),
- 99% Best Actress winners (1927-2012).
The Academy has 6,261 members. By race (in 2014):
- 94% White,
- 2% Black,
- < 2% Latino,
- < 1% Asian and Native.
Hollywood films are Whiter than the US. Demographically, they look like the US from the 1990s, while film-goers look like the 2030s – and the Academy looks like the 1950s (and that is being generous). In fact, the average Academy voter was born in the early 1950s.
Even if you take into account how White Hollywood films are, the odds that the 20 nominees would be all White two years in a row by mere chance is 1 in 170,110. To put that another way, there is a 99.9994% chance that racism at some level has something to do with it.
And it gets worse: There were two films last year with Black lead characters and Black directors that not only made over $100 million but were well-received by film critics: “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton”. They did receive nominations, but they all went to Whites: to Sylvester Stallone for “Creed” and the two screenwriters of “Straight Outta Compton”.
Jada Pinkett Smith is calling for a boycott of the awards show, February 28th. Spike Lee will not be going either. Unfortunately, they can be seen as sore losers: Spike Lee and Will Smith (Jada’s husband) were both passed over.
Last year’s show had the lowest ratings in six years.
Chris Rock is this year’s host. Tyrese is urging him to walk away. If he does not, he will have to say something about it in his opening monologue. Already he is calling it the White BET Awards.
What I would love to see: instead of an opening monologue, Chris Rock reads a short statement urging every decent person to walk out of an event so clearly racist – and then walks out.
Even when Blacks do win an Oscar, it is often for playing degrading or stereotyped parts, like servants, slaves, welfare queens and singers. It does not even seem to help them find work. Lou Gossett Jr, who won an Oscar in 1982, said:
“Now, when my contemporaries won the Academy Award, their careers went crazy. I didn’t get a phone call for a year and a half for a job.”
Jada Pinkett Smith:
“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. So let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us, differently.”
April Reign, who created #OscarsSoWhite:
“If you are concerned … don’t watch”
Thanks to King for suggesting this post.
– Abagond, 2016.
Updated (February 26th 2017): Tonight are the Oscars for 2017. Unlike the last two years, plenty of Blacks have been nominated:
- Best Actor: Denzel Washington for “Fences”
- Best Actress: Ruth Negga in “Loving”
- Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight”
- Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris in “Moonlight”
- Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”
- Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis in “Fences”
and in non-acting categories:
- Best Director: Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight”
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight”
- Best Film Editing: Joi McMillon for “Moonlight”
- Best Documentary Feature: Ava DuVernay for “13th”
- Best Documentary Feature: Roger Ross Williams for “Life, Animated”
- Best Documentary Feature: Raoul Peck, Hébert Peck and Rémi Grellety for “I Am Not Your Negro.”
- Best Cinematography: Bradford Young for “Arrival”
Best of luck!
- structural racism
- racial decade
- Will Smith: America is not a racist nation