The nominations for the 2016 Oscars were announced Thursday and the verdict is in: they’re too damn white.
For every acting category at this year’s Academy Awards, every nominee happens to be a white person. This result was an outrage to many in the media and the Twittersphere went abuzz with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. For the second year in a row, all of the acting nods have gone to white performers, which apparently is a grave injustice to all people of color.
According to the critics, major films with great performances from black actors like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” were unfairly snubbed the Academy and something is nefarious is afoot in these glaring omissions.
In a front page article that bore the question “Where’s the Diversity?,” the Los Angeles Times pointed the finger at the stale demographics of the critic corps which makes the nominations. It’s overwhelmingly white, male and old. This demographic character apparently makes the Academy pick films and actors who appeal to their old pasty sensibilities, rendering them ignorant of the quality of African-American performers and films immersed in black sensibility.
While nothing major has resulted from the onrush of rage at the Academy besides bitter screeds and promises of ineffectual boycotts, the outburst over the Oscars’ lack of diversity is yet another sign of our chattering class’ obsession with fulfilling racially-specific quotas.
If there is one thing certain about the Oscars, it’s that the awards show will leave out many qualified candidates and many of its choices for the “best” of any category seem out of touch with the zeitgeist. Remember, this is the same group that never gave Alfred Hitchcock an award and picked “Forrest Gump” over “Pulp Fiction.”
Many of the Academy’s choices are going to seem lame to people with more hip tastes than the supposedly stale geezers of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s just a fact of life.
To claim there’s some kind of unintentional racial prejudice involved in the selection process is just plain nonsensical, but that doesn’t stop the claims from being made. The woman who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com, April Regin, believes the Academy’s nominations amount to an “erasure of marginalized communities.”
Regin would like Hollywood to do even more to give roles to minorities, members of the “LGBTQ” community and those who are “differently abled.” She indicates she would also like directors and studios to go through every class of person in the process of casting a role in order to satisfy diversity concerns.
How these implementations would make movies any better or ensure acting roles go to the best applicant is unmentioned, but that’s not the point of the matter.
Increasingly, the cult of diversity is starting to conflict with America’s commitment to meritocracy. In our society, we value the idea of rewarding people based on their merit and quality rather than their background or skin color. We seek to enshrine equality of opportunity but not to impose equality of result. Americans prefer to honor the most talented instead of championing those who check off the most marks on a victimhood scorecard.
But the growing cult of diversity isn’t too thrilled with those values. Whenever some awards show, sports team or music festival is perceived as “too white” or “too cisgendered” — even though it is abundantly clear there is no prejudicial intent behind the lack of color — it instantly becomes “problematic” in the eyes of the Diversity Über Alles crowd.
Then comes the demands for mandatory slots for persons of color and other massively aggrieved minorities.
As an example, an unintentional lack of diversity which is a result of fair and legal hiring practices has even become a sign of the “systematic oppression” inherent in our universities to left-wing activists. The only solution for this problem, according to protesters’ demands, is to expand the racial quota system colleges already adhere to to further benefit this or that minority group.
And now the #OscarsSoWhite is arising to bring this same irrational mentality to culture. The idea that Hollywood may be a reactionary hotbed of racism is ridiculous. America’s film industry is a liberal bastion and it does the most it can to promote political correctness and fulfill its obligation to diversity for diversity’s sake. The Academy Awards have a long tradition of rewarding performers and directors from every background, as well as making bad judgment calls on quality.
But remember that the criticism of this year’s Oscar’s nods is not that those who earned them are undeserving of the honor. It’s that they happen to be white.
To demand that awards, roles and films be made in order to match demands set out by activists is to essentially impose affirmative action onto our culture.
Yet, maybe it is appropriate to do so in 2016 America, and there might be no institution more deserving of being hoisted up by its own petard than Hollywood.