Outrage At #OscarNoms Lack Of Diversity

By Alice Hudson

Announcing the nominees for the Oscars on Monday (13 Jan) with a blank face, Issa Rae concluded, “Congratulations to those men.”

Her frustration has been shared by many since the nominees for Oscar awards were revealed, and presented a bleak lack of diversity.

The category of Best Director has seen a multitude of female directors snubbed in favour of their male counterparts, including Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. There were exceptional choices of female director to include in the line-up, and people are rightly outraged at them being overlooked. Women such as Lulu Wang for ‘The Farewell’, Lorene Scafaria for ‘Hustlers’, and Alma Har’el for ‘Honey Boy’, all deserved a place in the category, as did Greta Gerwig. Gerwig’s production of ‘Little Women’ has been exceptionally received and the film is up for 6 other Oscar awards, yet its female director was overlooked. Unfortunately this is unsurprising, as in 92 years of the Oscar Awards only four female writers have ever been considered for Best Director, and Kathryn Bigelow remains the only female winner in the category.

Women are not the only ones overlooked in the Academy’s nominations, as people of colour have been notably absent from almost every category. Cynthia Erivo is the only black nominee to appear in the list of Oscar nominees; she is up for Best Actress and Best Song for her role in the biopic ‘Harriet’. While an incredible achievement for the actress, she is acutely aware and upset by the situation regarding diversity within the Oscars. “It’s not enough that I’m the only one,” Erivo said following her nomination, and the snubbing of other actors and actresses such as Jennifer Lopez and Awkwafina, despite already winning a Golden Globe for her role in ‘The Farewell’.

Following the 2015 Oscars social media saw #OscarsSoWhite trending in reference to the huge lack of diversity. Almost 5 years later there has been something akin to a revival of the movement with cries of outrage surrounding the debate and the lack of progression in the past 5 years. After the original #OscarsSoWhite controversy the Academy released a statement in January 2016 regarding their dedication to change; “The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.” Unfortunately, this appears not to have been the case, as hoards of people, including celebrities, have expressed their disappointment in this years line-up.

Issues regarding diversity and racism have seen the Golden Globes criticised also, as well as the BAFTA’s. Cynthia Erivo – the Oscars only non-white nominee – was asked to perform her song ‘Stand Up’ from ‘Harriet’ at the BAFTA’s, but she refused as their list of acting nominees was all-white. She said, “far too much work was done this year by incredible women and men of colour that should be celebrated.”

Disappointingly the new decade did not spark a new approach for the Oscars, despite their 2016 promises, and it can only be hoped that it does not take another 5 years for the exceptional work and diversity within the entertainment industry to be appropriately recognised.



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