The 88th Academy Awards were held Sunday, and due to the all-white acting nominations for the second year in a row, many across the country protested the event by refusing to tune in.
The Academy Awards is the most-watched, non-sports TV event. A Nielson survey revealed in the U.S., according to the Tampa Bay Times, over 34.3 million people tuned in Sunday to watch.
As impressive as this number may appear, it’s three million viewers shy of last year’s number. And the Academy needs to take a look at why so many homes decided not to tune in to TV’s most glamorous night.
The movement to boycott the event was led by viewers protesting with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on social media where they encouraged other watchers to refrain from tuning in to the show in hopes the Academy would begin to be more inclusive of its nominations.
Most notably, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee spoke out against the show and refused to attend.
“Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?” Smith said in a video posted to her Facebook page.
Chris Rock, this year’s host, began his opening monologue by welcoming everyone to the “White People’s Choice Awards.” His frustration was palpable as he joked that they will have to have separate categories for black actors so they are sure to be nominated.
Rock didn’t shy away from launching into a well-deserved reprimand of the Academy and the biased way they nominate all of their actors.
“There’s no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting,” Rock stated. “It’s not track and field … Robert De Niro’s never said, ‘I better slow this acting down, so Meryl Streep can catch up.’”
The Academy Awards are supposed to represent the best films, acting and industry techniques the last year had to offer. They claim to exemplify the best of the industry but in reality only acknowledge the work of a select few.
Will Smith offered a phenomenal performance in “Concussion.” Idris Elba captivated audiences in “Beasts of No Nation.” Michael B. Jordan unarguably stole the show in “Creed.” Yet, all were denied a nomination at this year’s awards.
A 2014 UCLA study found, “In 2011, out of the 172 films examined, dominant firms represented 9.2 percent of minority directors, 6.3 percent of minority writers and 7.3 percent of minority lead actors.”
If minority actors have a tough time being nominated, their fellow actresses have even larger hurdles to overcome. A Latin-American actress has not been nominated for Best Actress since 2004. An Asian actress hasn’t been nominated for Best Actress since 1935.
This is absurd. If the Academy wants to represent its public accurately, it needs to learn to appreciate actors other than Matt Damon. The film industry needs to start offering parts based on talent rather than skin color or gender.
Of the Academy’s approximately 6,000 voting members, 94 percent are white. According to the economist.com, “throughout the 20th century, 95 percent of Oscar nominations went to white film stars.”
It’s time for this to change. There’s no reason extremely talented actors, like Samuel L. Jackson and Viola Davis, should not have Oscars for their incredible work. Realistically, however, until actors of all race and gender are considered equally for roles in film, the Academy will continue to reflect the biased views of Hollywood.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.