In recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has stirred controversy over the lack of diversity in its nomination polls.
In 2015, activist April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in an effort to mock the lack of diversity at the award show. The hashtag rapidly gained popularity and heightened awareness of the topic.
The AMPAS faced scrutiny yet again in 2016, though drastic changes were made in 2017. The ceremony that year saw a record-tying seven minority actors and a record-setting six black actors nominated for awards.
Many media outlets and fans applauded the AMPAS for their sudden push for inclusivity. However, this sudden push didn’t last for long.
Only a single person of color was nominated for an acting award at the 2020 Academy Awards — Cynthia Ervio for her role as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”
The fight for more women to be nominated in non-acting categories didn’t fare well, either. The nominees for Best Director were notably all male.
After the nominations for this year’s ceremony were announced, bestselling author Stephen King posted a tweet that drew a fair amount of criticism from celebrities and fans alike.
“As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just three categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay,” King said. “For me, the diversity issue — as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway — did not come up. That said I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
While representation is extremely important in film, I have to agree with King’s statement.
When selecting which actors, directors and screenwriters should be on the Oscar ballot, members of the AMPAS shouldn’t be thinking about race or gender. They should be thinking about the quality of the individual’s performance.
It’d be a shame if a person who was undeserving of an award was nominated solely because they were a minority or a woman.
Being a woman myself, I’d like to see more female filmmakers get recognized for their work. But I want them to be recognized for creating outstanding pieces of art — not for simply being women.
The Academy Awards are meant to celebrate achievements in film, so let’s forget all the talk about race and gender, and just focus on celebrating achievements in film.