Have you ever wondered who votes for the Oscars? Who casts their votes, immortalizing best picture, best actor/actress, best director year after year? The list is one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets, but a recent investigation by the LA Times has revealed at least the demographics of that top-secret and clandestine list.
According to the investigation, 94% of the voters are white, and 77% are male. African-Americans and Latinos take up 2% of the space apiece. This has led a governor at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to say that, “We need to do a better job” of diversifying. He does go on to clarify and insist that the problem starts in the film business itself: “If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job in opening up its ranks, it’s very hard for us to diversify our membership.”
The plot twists don’t end there. The investigation also stated that the academy’s median age is 62, and only 14% of 5,765 voting members are younger than 50. Critics are saying that this explains a lot of the sometimes brow-furrowing choices in the past couple years. The Social Network was passed up for best picture last year (a little too digital for them to wrap their noggins around), Shame is by-and-large being ignored this year for being too sexy, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is up for best picture, likely due to its fathers-and-sons theme, predominantly white cast, and Tom Hanks appeal (though, to be fair, who doesn’t Tom Hanks appeal to?).
On the other side of the issue sits academy President Tom Sherak. He places the onus squarely on the unincluded, saying: “If you are sitting waiting for us to find your name in our make-believe book and we are going to call you, we are not going to do that,” he says. “Come to us, we’ll get you in.”
What do you think of the Academy’s decision-making board? Time for change?