Black lives should matter in Hollywood

Vivian Englund – Copy Editor 

The Oscars are something that appears to bring out a new controversial notion every year. 2014 was a whirlwind for the media’s representation of people of color in the media. So why is it that of all 20 nominees in the acting categories—all of them are white?

Earlier last week the humorous hashtag “#Oscarssowhite” was trending in the United States. This was the result of information about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences making its way to the mainstream.

The facts showed in the LA Times that approximately 93 percent of its members are white, 86 percent of them are 50 years of age or older and 76 percent of their members are male.

By any means, yes, this is enough to condemn the Oscars as both racist and sexist.

Through the years the academy voters have always been discriminatory against people of color and women even in roles behind the camera.

Out of 433 best director nominees, only three have gone to black men, while only three have gone to women. This does not even take into account that a black woman has never been nominated.

However, this is not to say that any of this is new to the Oscars and the academy. But in light of recent events and media coverage, this information has surfaced and become a hot topic.

As for my stance in this issue, I agree with Spike Lee’s suggestions. This is that the academy of voters seems to celebrate a film about people of color or actor every few years and then returns to their normal facet of strictly-white nominating.

Where all of this gets extremely problematic on a different level is the fact that all Oscar nominees and winners’ prospects and opportunities expand.

This includes the fact that movies that are simply nominated for the Oscar generally make about $20 million more than the average films, and that is with box office sales alone.

That being said, the academy voters essentially have a lot of power or control over the way money is made and distributed across the entire film industry. This is because they are in charge of who “succeeds” and who is “worthy” of receiving praise.

When the academy is nearly all middle-aged white men—it is not shocking to see that movies through the scope of the white man are more likely to be successful.

“Selma” tells the tale about Martin Luther King Jr., and has been successful in the box office since its debut. However, though the film received high marks from its audience, it has only received two Oscar nominations.

The two nominations include best picture and original song.

The academy’s snub of “Selma,” to some, has been the markings of a refutation and refusal in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and on a broader scale, people of color in the United States.

With all of the movements and issues in the media in 2015, I was hopeful that the Oscar nominations by the academy would be a refreshing start to 2015, perhaps we have not learned the lesson we should have from last year.

Photo Credit: Davidlohr Bueso

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