Black Figures In The Movie Business Call For A Boycott Of The “White Oscars”

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As most of us already know, there’s been some controversy in the movie business lately because of the fact that, for the second year in a row, we’ve had a case of the “White Oscars.” Namely, not a single person of color has been nominated in the acting category for two consecutive years. Now, a group of prominent black figures in Hollywood calls for a boycott of the Oscars.

President of the academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement on the matter, promising “big changes” in the movie industry, but concluding that what those changes will be is still open to question.

The boycott that Spike Lee and others are calling for places many black performers in a bind, forcing them to make a choice between alienating an entire fanbase (including activists that may support the boycott) and, on the other hand, reaching the broader global audience that will be watching the telecast on February 28th. Not an easy choice to make, by any standards.

According to the president of the African American Film Critics Association Gil Robertson, black audiences are upset by the state of things in the Academy and they have a right to be. But he also argues that there’s a more effective way to deal with the problem. For example, blacks should show up at the Oscars if they’re lucky to be invited and use that as a platform to further their ideas.

Cheryl Boone faces a dilemma herself as the first African-American to be the head of the Academy. She has publicly led a three-year-long drive for a more diverse membership and has privately opened her office door to women and minorities. One idea is that she could adopt Peck’s approach to adjusting membership rolls, even though that too would likely inspire protest from Academy members older than her.

Another thought is that the Academy could alter the preferential balloting process it’s been using since 2011, according to which only five to ten films can be nominated for Best Picture. Because the system prioritizes pictures that Academy members select as their first choice, chances that “Straight Outta Compton” would be among the nominees were virtually non-existent.

Many black figures have yet to speak publicly about the issue and the sentiment of those who have expressed their opinion¬†is in no way monolithic. When Spike Lee was asked about the White Oscars, he replied that “he never even used the word boycott,” but that he “won’t be attending the ceremony.” We hope that the Academy will find a way to give all races a fair shot at the Oscar game in the future, as it could prove scandalous if the White Oscars keep repeating themselves in the years to come.

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