As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Oscar nominations for the year 2020 on Monday, Issa Rae picked up where Natalie Portman left off in 2018 - but nothing has changed.
Rae’s four pointed words "Congratulations to those men" while announcing the Best Director category, were heard loud and clear.
Those nominated for the Best Director category were - Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) and those snubbed were - Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Alma Har'el (Honey Boy), and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart).
However, the list did not surprise many as till date, in its history of 92 long years, only one woman has won a directing Oscar - Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” and five ever nominated.
The agony did not end there. It was a proud moment earlier in the month at the Golden Globes when Awkwafina made it for ‘The Farewell’ - the first win by an actress of Asian descent in the lead category, but probably not good enough for the Academy as she was denied a chance for the Oscar. And continuing another troubling trend in the acting nominations, was Cynthia Erivo of ‘Harriet’ the only nominee of colour - a scenario that first happened in 2015, resulting in the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, and again in 2016. The Academy thereafter took measures to diversify its ranks. Since 2015, the group’s overall female membership has grown from 25% to 32%, and overall membership of people of colour has from 8% to 16%.
Apart from the Academy, last week, BAFTA nominees also received a lot of backlash after actresses Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Cynthia Erivo and Lupita Nyong'o were passed over in favour of Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson, who were each nominated twice.
But Author Stephen King said "the diversity issue … did not come up" when he submitted nominations in the Best Picture and writing categories.
"I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong," he said.
As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.— roxane gay (@rgay) January 14, 2020
His statement sparked a major debate with arguments on both sides. At Time’s Up, the Hollywood-based organization devoted to fighting sexual harassment and sexual assault, Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Goldman pledged to work for change. “This is why TIME’S UP exists — to ensure women in entertainment and across industries get the opportunities and recognition they deserve,” she said. “And we won’t stop fighting until they do.”
And while the internet had a lot more to say, we’ll leave it at - the time’s truly up Academy, let’s do better next time.
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