It’s no longer just members of Hollywood’s black community that are expressing outrage over the all-white acting nominations at this year’s Academy Awards.
Oscar winner George Clooney, an A-Lister with considerable industry influence and a progressive reputation, has joined the chorus of famous figures decrying #OscarsSoWhite for the second year in a row. Clooney, who famously championed Hollywood’s history of inclusion when accepting his Best Supporting Actor award for the drama “Syriana” 10 years ago, says the nominations suggest the Oscars are “moving in the wrong direction.”
“I think that African-Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough,” Clooney told Variety in a recent interview. “I think that’s absolutely true.” He cited “Straight Outta Compton,” “Creed” and “Beasts of No Nation” as examples of films with black leads that deserved more recognition, but added “that there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars.”
“I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?” he added.
Clooney has been outspoken on issues of diversity in the past, arguing that studios should consider changing the genders of lead characters more often to promote more female representation in films, too. Clooney has put his money where his mouth is; he is co-producing a reboot of his signature “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise with an all-female cast, starring Sandra Bullock.
Meanwhile, several prominent Hollywood names have said they will not attend or watch this year’s Oscars in protest of the perceived snubs of actors of color. Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith (whose husband, Will Smith, was overlooked by the academy for his well-reviewed performance in “Concussion”) have both said they will sit out this year’s show. Actor Tyrese Gibson has even called on Oscar host, comedian Chris Rock, to step down. And documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has said he too will join a boycott in solidarity with them.
“This is wrong, not just in terms of the Oscars, but really it’s the industry,” Moore told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on “All In” on Tuesday. While he said he knows members of the academy’s leadership is “disgusted” over the fallout of the nominations, he lamented the fact that the industry is “so white” and “so male” that he can spend a day taking meetings in Hollywood and not meet a single African-American who has decision-making capabilities or power.
“It is stunning how segregated the town is, the industry is. Ya know it’s the General Motors of that town, yet you couldn’t got to General Motors in Detroit, and for three days at GM not encounter a black American who has some power,” said Moore, whose new documentary film “Where to Invade Next” boasts eight female producers.
His sentiments were echoed by recent black Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who shared her “disappointment” with the nominations Wednesday on Instagram. “It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture. The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today,” she wrote.
Not everyone thinks the Academy Awards nominations lack of diversity is an outrage. Former actress and outspoken Fox News personality Stacey Dash argued Wednesday that the position of Oscar protesters is “ludicrious.”
Dash, was recently suspended by cable news network for claiming President Obama doesn’t “give a sh*t” about terrorist threats, said: “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. If we don’t want segregation then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the [NAACP] Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are black.”
“We’ve had a president who is black in office for the past eight years, who gets most of his funding from the liberal elite in Hollywood,” she added. “Yet, there are not very many roles for people of color. How can that be and why is it just now being addressed?”