The nominations are in, and everyone is talking about who will go home with the gold statuette after the biggest night in Hollywood. But the buzz isn’t only about what the stars will be wearing and who’ll be disappointed—it’s also about the stunning lack of diversity in this year’s nominees.
Not a single actor of color was nominated in all four acting categories, and no female directors, screenwriters, or cinematographers have been recognized.
This may come as no surprise to some. After all, according to the Associated Press, members of the Academy are about 94% white and 77% male with a median age of 62. But after the positive, (although not perfect by any means) recognition of actors and directors of color in the 2014 Oscars, it’s still shocking and upsetting that this diversity could not be continued.
Did the Academy simply give up, shrugging their shoulders while saying, “Well, we gave them Lupita Nyong’o and Steve McQueen last year, so that’s good enough?”
The snubs are insane. Although “Selma” was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song, neither director Ava DuVernay or star David Oyelowo were nominated for awards. Although Rosamund Pike was nominated for her incredibly terrifying performance in “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn, author of the novel and who also wrote the screenplay, was overlooked.
Angelina Jolie’s epic “Unbroken” will not be winning her a little gold statuette. But by all means, let’s allow Bradley Cooper to be in the running by playing a Muslim killing, fake baby holding U.S. army sniper.
What does this tell the modern movie-going audience? The Oscars are one of the biggest nights in Hollywood: millions of Americans from all walks of life tune in every year. The face of America is changing, but our stories are not.
In a “post-everything” society, we should be expecting our media to reflect the changes around us. But what we’re given instead is the same formula: scruffy but lovable white man goes on the hero’s journey and perhaps finds love along the way.
What we say with these nominations is that these are the stories worth telling.
There’s a common argument that because only white men are making films (or games or television shows or books), and they’re the ones who get the recognition. But that’s not what’s happening here. The lack of diversity isn’t because women and people of color aren’t making films, because that’s not true. The lack of diversity is due to the barriers women and people of color face in Hollywood.
Steps need to be taken to correct this overwhelming whiteness, and celebrating a much more diverse group of films during the Hollywood’s biggest shindig would be a great start.