Oscars So Not Diversified...Still
By Alex Furmansky
It comes as no surprise that the Academy Awards have once again had no problem representing straight white cis males—specifically in the Best Director category—with the exception of Spike Lee for his film “BlacKkKlansman.” Since the 2015 and 2016 #OscarsSoWhite controversies, there has been a bit more representation for people of color, but the effort to have a more diverse list of nominees is definitely still developing. When looking at the nominees for Best Director, it is hard not to cringe at the fact that they are all males, especially after the #TimesUp movement, which happened just last year.
In fact, according to ABC News, “Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative recently announced a new challenge to members of Hollywood to commit to a project with one female director in the next 18 months.” Tessa Thompson was actually one of the first stars to take the pledge to participate in the 4 percent challenge. Studies found that women only directed 4 percent of the 1,200 highest-earning studio films over the last decade, thus the 4 percent challenge was born.
It is encouraging to also note that not only women have taken to the challenge, but men have as well. Jordan Peele and Armie Hammer were among some of the first men to accept the challenge. In Jordan Peele’s case, he was quite enthusiastic on Twitter saying, “You know I’m in!”
Although this is one of the examples of the efforts to provide a bit more diversity when it comes to the Oscars, the most alarming thing to note is the absolute lack of representation of the Asian community. With films like “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Burning” coming out this year and the amount of praise they received, it is upsetting that the Academy is still not giving them the recognition they deserve.
The history of Asian representation in Hollywood has always been virtually nonexistent. According to The Ringer, “The only two Asians ever to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress are Ben Kingsley and Merle Oberon, respectively.” For those of you who may not know, Ben Kingsley was The Rabbi in “Lucky Number Slevin” and Dr. Cawley in “Shutter Island.” Both of these actors are Indian, and granted that the representation for actors from the Middle East and Southeast Asia isn’t absolutely dismal, it still needs a great deal of work.
Here’s another reason why it needs work: Hailee Steinfeld was the last Asian to be nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the film “True Grit.” Steinfeld is less than 15 percent Filipino but 75 percent White—I’ll just leave that there.
While the Oscars have been trying to be more inclusive, they are doing it at an abysmal rate. And if this isn’t enough of a s**t show, Kevin Hart has backed out of hosting and the Academy Awards are, as of now, host-less. Grab your popcorn, people, and get ready for a train wreck.