When the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced, many critics surfaced about the lack of diversity among nominees. Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have both chosen on Martin Luther King’s Birthday to announce boycotts of this year’s ceremony. They initiated the boycott in protest over the lack of diversity among the nominees this year.
Lee announced his decision on instagram with critics questioning the credibility of Oscars. He asked, “How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?” Lee thinks the real battle happens in the executive office of the Hollywood studios, TV, and cable networks. (See Lee’s post on Instagram here)
Jada P. Smith posted a video on Facebook explaining her stance, she said “It’s our responsibility now to make the change, maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our community…” Will Smith later has joined his wife, actress Jada P. Smith saying that he won’t be attending this year’s Academy Ceremony. In an interview with abcnews, Will smith explains, “When I look at the nominations, reflect academy, the academy reflects the industry, the Hollywood. And then the industry reflects America, reflects a series of challenges that we are having in our country at the moment right now.”
In response to the boycott, Academy ends lifetime memberships and announces other initiatives to increase diversity. For instance, they will recruit more diverse new members, and the creation of three new governor seats on the board of Governors.
The boycott did bring public’s attention to the issue of race inequality in Hollywood. Will Smith’s statement is very strong at reminding that there still is progress needs to be made on the issue of race equality. However, the boycott and Academy’s solutions also sparked an opinion from candidate. As Charlotte Rampling calls Oscars boycott is “racist to white people.”
Issues about race and gender would alway be sensitive, because it is not possible for one to gives his/her opinion without sharing the personal values that were form as part of his/her background, which people usually call them bias.
As of now, Oscars’ initiatives might comfort participants, but there are still questions remained about equiality in the industry. Questions such as is the industry too white? How should we or can we define fairness in Hollywood? And who should be the one deciding the limit? And what can the people in the industry do that would possibly help loosen the tensions?