Oscar recognitions must become more diverse

Mary Dolan

And the Oscar for the least diverse awards ceremony goes to … well, you can probably guess.

After Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday, it was quickly noticed that no minorities were nominated in any of the acting categories — for the second year running.

There has also been a lack of female nominees for “behind the camera” categories — with the worst offender being the Best Director award, which hasn’t had a female winner since 2010. Last year’s lack of diversity met especially vocal opposition, and many hoped that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would change direction for the 2016 ceremony. Obviously, it did not.

This year’s nominations show just how out of touch the Oscars are with today’s films and filmmakers. Just four years ago, 94 percent of the voting members of the Academy were white, and 77 percent were male. Black and Latino members made up a combined 4 percent of the voters. In June 2015, the Academy invited 322 people to become members, including a larger number of minorities and women. However, even in a year with critically acclaimed films like “Creed,” “Carol” and “Beasts of No Nation,” the nominations remained disappointingly predictable.

When a voting body made up of mostly white men casts its votes for movies like “The Martian” and “The Revenant” over films like the aforementioned “Creed” and “Carol,” stale safety glosses over great films featuring mostly minority and female casts. This makes the increasingly diverse voting body into mere lip service for progress. The Academy has attempted to boost its flagging TV ratings in recent years by recognizing popular movies like “Inception” and “Les Misérables.” If it really wants to draw in audiences, it should honor movies that feature more minorities and women and deviate from what has become standard Oscar fare over the years.

More diverse Oscar nominations would probably not change the world in any earthshaking way. However, they would allow movie audiences that do not look like your usual Academy voter to see stories that represent and cater to them, and they would allow the Academy to finally move into the 21st century. Most importantly, they would allow the Oscars to look like a true celebration of film rather than a celebration of the achievements of white men.

Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene. Dolan is an Associate Editor. Follow her on Twitter @mimimdolan.