2016 Oscars lack of diversity: Academy or Hollywood to blame?

For the second year in a row, the Academy Awards have excluded any non-white actors in the nominations for all acting categories. Many people believe that some actors, such as Will Smith and Idris Elba should’ve been nominated for their respective works in the films Concussion and Beasts of No Nation. Similarly, Straight Outta Compton is considered to be one of the year’s best films, was also excluded in the Best Picture category. The lack of diversity in the Oscars has caused a lot controversy in the media, with the #OscarsSoWhite trending worldwide on Twitter.

Many people believe that the lack of diversity is due to the fact that the Academy itself also lacks in diversity. The Academy, which selects the nominees and the eventual winner, is made up of over 6,000 members.  In 2012,  94% were white, 77% were men, and less than 14% were under the age of 50. Because there isn’t enough diversity in the Academy, it isn’t surprising that nominees lack diversity as well.

As the Academy plans to reform its policies to try and have more diverse nominees, there are many different questions on this issue. Is the Academy at fault for the lack of diversity? Are people overreacting to the nomination selections? Or is there someone or something that we should really blame for the issue?

The main reason the Oscars fail to have diversity is because of Hollywood’s lack of opportunities for non-white people.

— Andrew Plouff

First and foremost, I believe it is necessary that the Academy begins to integrate more diverse members. It’s important to have a variety of diverse people able to choose the nominees, otherwise the Oscars will continue to only recognize the same white actors every year, and we’ll never see interesting dynamics in the voting. Whether it’s revoking memberships or increasing the number of eligible voters, they need to find a way to quickly resolve this part of this issue.

However, they are not the only ones at fault for the lack of diversity. The main reason the Oscars fail to have diversity is because of Hollywood’s lack of opportunities for non-white people. In Hollywood, most filmmakers do not care about having characters of diverse races, often whitewashing their films.  For example, recent films such as Stonewall and Aloha should have resulted in an intricately diverse cast, but the filmmakers chose to exclude any substantial racial diversity throughout. It’s important that Hollywood starts to avoid whitewashing movies, otherwise there won’t be any opportunities for different races to be represented in films, or have the chance to be nominated by the Academy.

Although the Academy needs reform, Hollywood must take action as well to allow for more roles for people of different races. Hollywood must not be so insistent on casting white actors, but rather look to have a more realistic group of people who can represent the entire setting of the movie. If Hollywood starts to include more diverse actors into movies, then hopefully there will be more diverse actors nominated for the Oscars in the coming years.