An Oscar boycott is already underway from African-American filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and tensions are unlikely to subside once the words of Jeremy Larner make the rounds online.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Larner, an Academy voter defended the selections, saying something that some are construing as even more racist than nominating all-white actors and actresses two years straight.
“I have voted for many people of color for awards,” he explained. “I happen to think Straight Outta Compton is not a great film for reasons of structure and substance. I can imagine it is a powerful affirmation for those who share the assumptions of its music and see it as fans. But to me, a good film has to show a lot more than this one does.”
Not too bad so far, but it’s this next line that has some going all in for an Oscar boycott and many eyebrows raising across the internet.
“It is not a time to make enemies among those who would move us further in the direction of fairness, freedom and justice,” he said, “referring to attempts to make voting harder for black people in many states,” THR adds.
The implication, one commenter said, is “don’t p*** us off or else,” while another speculated that in saying what he did, Larner thinks that only white people can be entrusted to move “fairness, freedom, and justice” forward.
Actress Penelope Ann Miller, also an Academy member, was also not immune from the microscope.
“There were an incredible number of films in 2015 that were primarily about white people,” she said. “Talk to the studios about changing that, not the Academy. There’s only so much we can do. … I think when you make race the issue, it can divide people even further, and that’s what I worry about.”
“In other words, don’t expect us to change, and keep your fears of racial inequality to yourself,” a third comment retorted.
Whether you believe there is bigotry in Miller and Larner’s statements or not and that an Oscar boycott is necessary, most are pushing back on the idea that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can’t do anything about its race problem.
In fact, amid the outcry, they have already started.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs released a statement Wednesday night, according to The Verge, that “big changes” were coming to the way that the Academy does things “in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
Touting steps the Academy had taken to diversify membership over the last four years, she admitted that “change is not coming as fast as we would like.”
You can see the full statement in the embedded tweet below.
A statement from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs pic.twitter.com/Nqhgc7sbqG
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 19, 2016
Isaacs’ statement has done little to quell the furor. In fact, one look at Twitter shows that it’s kicked up more from the other side of the debate with many (mostly white) tweeters stating that films and performances should be honored based on merit, while others point out that the voting bloc of the Academy is “77% male, 94% white, with an average age of 63.”
The argument for an Oscar boycott goes that if those are demographics of the people selecting and voting on the contenders and winners, then how can other ethnicities get a fair shake?
But what do you think about it, readers?
Is two years straight of all-white nominees for the major award categories worthy of an Oscar boycott? Sound off in the comments section below.