The more I hear and read about this “tempest in a teapot” (to use the currently popular aphorism), the more it begins to sound like a curious case study in leftthink.
First it was announced that for the second consecutive year, no “persons of color” were nominated for the academy’s 20 best/supporting actor/actress awards. Then it was revealed that not only is the academy membership 94% white, but it is also primarily composed of old men. The not so subtle implication is that something nefarious, like racism, is at work in the nomination process. That might have some merit….except for two facts.
1) It’s true that the academy’s almost 6,200 members are disproportionately white, old and male. However, it’s not the academy that selects the 20 actor nominees. It’s the roughly 1,140 members of the actors branch of the academy – a branch that is not only heavily represented by young, female and minority members, but that is also overwhelmingly liberal.
2) This is also the same old, white, male academy that in the past several years has honored Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gabourney Sidibe, Viola Davis, Quvenzhane Wallis, Barkhad Abdi, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, Precious, Django Unchained, 12 Years A Slave and Selma as nominees and/or Oscar winners. This is an industry that perhaps more than any other, bends over backwards to convince people how enlightened it is when it comes to race, diversity and inclusion. It’s a little far-fetched to believe they suddenly all turned into hooded Klansmen who refuse to recognize black achievement.
The knee-jerk outrage from the left and the industry has been predictable. Spike Lee is boycotting the ceremony. Lee is a black man who has been nominated twice, and just last year was given an honorary Oscar for his career achievements. Jada Pinkett-Smith is also boycotting the ceremony. Jada isn’t good enough to ever have been nominated, but her husband is Will Smith. Will is a black man who’s been nominated twice for best actor. Coincidentally, both times he was nominated, he lost….to black men.
The call for changes in the membership process has been swift. The most popular changes are (a) to no longer require those old, white men to sponsor new members, thereby reducing their influence, and (b) to remove from membership any member who has been inactive in the industry for ten years, thereby eliminating some more of those old, white men. The result will be an academy membership that looks more like the actors branch….the group that hasn’t nominated a person of color in their last 40 nominations. I suppose the concern is that all those old, white men do the racist thing and vote their skin color when choosing nominees, even though the history of the academy’s nominations suggest otherwise. The hope must be that this new, diverse membership will do the racist thing and vote their skin color, thereby increasing the likelihood of more people of color being nominated.
Only a left-leaning industry like this one would take a problem that may not exist, and almost certainly isn’t racist, and fix it with a solution that hopefully is.