In response to an all-white Oscars slate, and an #OscarsSoWhite campaign, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took drastic measures to bring in more diversity.
They have a point that the majority of Academy voters are white, male, and over 65. This will make for a pretty homogenous slate of nominees. It’s also not terribly indicative of the American moviegoing audience. Lifetime membership and an odd Hollywood permutation of the “Good Ole Boys Network” is almost entirely to blame for the quagmire.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, pledged on Friday to end this. The Academy will begin bringing in “more diversity” in voters, as well as yanking voting privileges from older voters. The thought here is that it will bring a younger, more ethnically diverse voting base that will avoid another #OscarsSoWhite with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith joining Spike Lee in a big, public thing.
There’s just one massive problem with that. It starts with an “O” and rhymes with “shmover-compensation.”
Bringing in “diversity votes” will create a subconscious agenda in not only the new, minority voters also current voters with a conscience. They know these shake-ups are meant to bring about more minority nominations, and they have been subliminally given a job to do by Isaacs and the Academy.
This goes off the rails when the inevitable snub of a really great film or performance by a white actor or director happens, in favor of a minority performance or film happens.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say John Singleton directs a biopic on Marvin Gaye, starring let’s say, Usher, called “What’s Going On” — and it’s pretty good, but not world changing. Now on the other hand, suppose Wes Anderson gives us the best film of his career, which — lets cut the crap — will star Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. Call it “Roller Skate Pie.” Which absolutely sounds like something he’d call it.
What we have now is a situation where the Academy voters know damned well they need to vote for ‘What’s Going On’ because it’s minority-themed, cast and directed. While ‘Roller Skate Pie’ is clearly the better film, watch what happens.
In fact, the charge from the Academy is so clear, bookmakers could probably give you 4 to 1 the entire Best Actor category will be minorities — just to pacify the Smiths, et. al.
Real talk, the Oscars are white as hell. That’s fact. However, the reaction from the Academy is way too far in the other direction. It’s going to create an insane situation where minority themed and directed films will get nominations and awards over more deserving films, just to make a point.
There are some magnificent minority actors and films being ignored this year (‘Straight Outta Compton‘, case in point), but that doesn’t mean we need to swing the pendulum way in the other direction. If you think the Oscar controversy is bad now — watch what happens next year.