In the modern age, award ceremonies such as the Oscars become less about showcasing talent, and more about politics. In recent news, the Academy Awards, as well as The BAFTAs have been pinned down by the media and members of the community suggesting that this year’s nominations lacked diversity. Although this statement is true, I find it strange that the race card is being used in such an unpredictable environment. I feel it’s a dire shame that there has been such a small selection of actors and actresses from minority backgrounds in this year’s awards, as there truly has some amazing talent from a variety of cultures.
However, these awards shouldn’t be depicted on race, they should be celebrating great talent amongst the diverse population of actors and actresses of every colour, religion and gender. We as a population have been so sensitised towards political correctness that we’re actually insulting the people we are trying to protect; I’m positive that actors don’t want to be nominated based on the colour of their skin, but instead, they want their career and catalogue of work to be rewarded. I understand the frustration the community has shared over the past few weeks due to the constant neglect the black community has received from these awards during its 88 years. However, I don’t think the awards are to blame but in fact, the lack of actors from minority backgrounds.
In truth, you’re not going to see plenty of actors and actresses from minority backgrounds because unfortunately the industry is crowded with white actors of the male gender. Therefore, we shouldn’t be holding the awards liable, but instead asking the acting community to create a more diverse catalogue of actors. It must be said that 2015 was a very lacking year for minorities in film and that could have drawn a conclusion to why such racial bias has emerged. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that only 2 black people have won an oscar in the 88 years the awards have been running.
But who’s to say that this bias only affects black people? It seems that the media and consensus have assumed that only one race has been affected by the controversy the Academy Awards has sparked. Where in fact, there has only been two Asian nominations for best actor and only one Asian nomination for best actress during the 88 years the Oscars have been in commission. Again, we aim to be so politically correct that we forget the real issue that has been raised. It’s about racial diversity and it shouldn’t be a blame game.
A study ran by Ralph J Bunche found that in 2013, 16.7% of lead roles in 174 films were claimed by minorities. That means that out of the 174 films researched, only 29 of them included actors from minority backgrounds. In which, that percentage is then shared by members of the Black, Asian and Women communities. Therefore, mathematically it makes sense why there aren’t as many minority nominations, because the odds of white actors greatly outweighs the percentage of actors from minority backgrounds.
The 2016 British Academy Film And Television Awards wrapped up last night with the same discussion being held. However, the BAFTAs are well known for their diverse selection of nominations and for them to be scrutinised identifies that the problem lies not with the awards, but the lack of minority actors being chosen for major roles. We can ask the same question about gay people in film or transgender in Film, these are issues that are not publicised by the media because they won’t receive as large of a reaction. But name me at least 10 actors from the LGBT community and you’ll find that there is far less than those from Black or Asian backgrounds.
Despite the common agreement that many have, I don’t think The Oscars are racist. A large organisation such as the Academy Awards should have no political stance and thus remain completely neutral. I think it’s unfair to blame the award for a lack of actors from minority backgrounds and we should be demanding a more diverse population of actors and actresses. I hate talking about race as if we’re separate because we’re not, and we shouldn’t be described in such an independent manner. I struggled to find a conclusion to this issue however, I hope to see an industry that is littered with talent from all cultures as I hate to see a community be divided by the media.