Thursday, February 04, 2016


As many of you will know, this is the second year in a row that all the acting nominees on the Oscar ballot are white. No other ethnicity is represented.

In response, the #OscarsSoWhite handle started trending once again, and soon after several African American artists announced their intention to boycott the Oscar ceremony altogether, calling for others to follow their example.

In order to avoid damage to the upcoming ceremony, and perhaps to show initiative, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (currently lead by an African American) called for a special meeting of its board, which decided to make radical changes to voting requirements as well as its own recruiting process in order to increase the diversity of its membership:

The most striking of the changes is a requirement that the voting status of both new and current members be reviewed every 10 years. 
Voting status may be revoked for those who have not been active in the film business in a decade. But members who have had three 10-year terms will have lifetime voting rights, as will those who have won or been nominated for an Academy Award 
The academy’s membership is made up of roughly 6,200 movie professionals around the world, and it was not immediately clear how many would be purged from the voting rolls by the new rule.

But the moves by the academy, which aims to replace older members with a younger, more diverse group, are certain to be met with some criticism, and perhaps resistance. Academy voting rights rank among Hollywood’s more coveted marks of status, not least because of the screening invitations and flattering attention that come with them.

The proposed changes were met with both positive and negative reactions, as one would expect.

I have to say that, after careful consideration, I agree with this year's first time nominee Charlotte Rampling, who said "One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list."

Certainly, it's impossible to know why some performers were picked, but I doubt that racism really had much to do with it. With over six thousand members I'm sure there are plenty of racists, overt and covert, but I don't see how they would be able to affect the final results to this degree. And that would also imply that some of the 20 nominees didn't deserve a spot in their respective categories. Can you tell me who those would be?

A good point made by some detractors is that the voting is supposed to be based on talent, not ethnicity. The color of an actor's skin shouldn't have anything to do with the merits of one's performance, and while that might be naive of me, how would the AMPAS go about implementing their own version of affirmative action?

There's also the very reasonable complaint from some current voters who wonder whether their voting rights will be withdrawn simply because they have recently been working more in television, or behind the scenes, or simply because they haven't been able to get their projects greenlit or scripts bought by a Hollywood studio. That would be illogical and unfair.

Ultimately, increasing the membership and improving its diversity, by having more minorities and more women, would lead to very positive results, among which would be more variety on the choices made on the ballots, but removing voting rights from those who have previously earned them doesn't seem fair to me.

What's your take?

Here's the full article.

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