Editorial: The academy gets an Oscar for pitiful diversity

Editorial Board

And the Oscar for worst diversity goes too … The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This is not an acceptance speech, in fact this is an anti-acceptance speech because we do not support the academy in this ‘award’ or in its actions.

The academy has failed the public for the second year in a row in its selection of actors to represent the films produced during the previous year. The prestigious award has been whitewashed for the second straight year — not a single person from a diverse background was nominated for any of the four major acting categories.

Not only are the nominees solely caucasian but a trend in those who attend the Oscars on Feb. 28 might be primarily white as well. Celebrities such as Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith have publicly announced their decision to boycott the award show. Smith was one of the actors picked over in the nomination process for his film “Concussion.” He has already won and been nominated for his work on the picture.

The public knew there was an issue last year around the time of nomination because that was the first time since 1996 that not a single actor or actress of color was nominated, but when it happened again, it was clear something had to change.

The Los Angeles Times released the percentages of people who vote on the nominees in 2012, and it resulted in baffling numbers. A total of 94 percent of the votes came from caucasians, and 77 percent came from a male vote. One might think after reading these that they were copied and pasted from the 1970s voting record, but do not be mistaken, these are from only a few years ago.

In response to the outcry, the academy released some “historic” goals in that it wants to double the number of women and diverse academy members by 2020.

2016 is still in its infancy, so despite the fact that it doesn’t seem that far off, four years is plenty of time for the academy to cover its tracks. Wanting to double membership is a lofty goal, especially given the tarnish that has settled on a once pristine, golden statuette.

The public cannot let the academy forget about our disdain of its behavior. Hollywood greats cannot let it forget its contempt with those who decide America’s greatest cinematic works.

Film is an art form loved by all, unaware of race or gender or sexuality or any other shred of individuality. In this matter, celebrity or civilian, we cannot let this outdated judgement proceed regardless of the promises it makes.