Oscar voters are old, White guys. Why are we surprised?
The LA Times recently unveiled the make-up of the voting block for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and it turns out most of the voters are old, white dudes--specifically, 94% are Caucasian, 77% are male and the median age of an Oscar voter is 62.
To which I say, OBVIOUSLY! Have you watched a broadcast of this awards show, like, EVER? It's so obvious in everything from the films singled out for recognition to the script for the show that everyone involved are members of an Ol' Boys Network. I mean, even Eddie Murphy couldn't hold on to the hosting gig this year, because his Tower Heist producer (not even him, not to say he hasn't said some ludicrous things) Brett Ratner said some messed up stuff.
So, they went and got another old, White dude to host the show--Billy Crystal! Are you seeing the pattern here folks? It's absolutely shameful that these awards have been going on for as long as they have and I can still count on one hand the amount of women and men of color who I've seen actually win an award.
I remember so vividly when Halle Berry won for Monster's Ball. Her acceptance speech was so emotional and it really hit home for me that this was a watershed moment in American for African American and minority women. I was grateful that I'd caught it, then I got so very, very angry. Why? Because it was the 21st CENTURY and we were STILL fighting for the same recognition--and she is still the only African American woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Actress. The same exact thing happened to me when Kathryn Bigelow won the best director award in 2009 for her superb film, The Hurt Locker, and I found out that she was the first woman EVER to be recognized in that category.
Don't even get me started on the major snub of Benicio del Toro for his amazing turn as Argentine revolutionary hero Che Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's eponymous 2-part epic--even the winner for Best Actor that year, Sean Penn for Milk, mentioned del Toro in his acceptance speech. Jennifer Lopez was also ignored for her outstanding portrayal of Selena Quintanilla and Edward James Olmos, though the first Latino ever nominated for a Best Actor trophy for his role as famed teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand & Deliver, was ultimately overlooked for his performance.
I get it, Hollywood is an insiders game and you have to have all the right connections and know how to really get anything done. But pretty soon, these old White dudes aren't going to be around, and if they spend their twilight years keeping a new crop of diverse talent out, then the Oscars, are going to go the way of the Miss America pageant and continue on their march towards irrelevancy.
The country is changing, we're creating more diverse communities and it's high time that the media and those organizations that celebrate its accomplishments take notice. Plus, the Academy just might want to note that Hispanics make up a disproportionate amount of movie ticket sales--our movie theater attendance jumped by 14 percent in 2010, and we're one of the few demographics that will go see a movie in the theaters more than once!
What do you think about the Academy awards? Do you think they lack diversity?
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