Academy Awards Changes After #OscarsSoWhite Could Lead To Major Legal Issues

After all the nominees for major categories at this year’s Academy Awards were all White, there was a huge uproar. Under Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, sudden new rules were put in place. According to a statement on the Academy’s website, historic measures were taken in order to ensure diversity exists with future nominations.

Under the new Academy rules, members will now be denied lifetime voting rights. Now, they’ll be able to vote for only 10 years. However, they can renew their membership if they’ve worked in motion pictures during that time.

According to the Guardian, the Academy will take serious measures to double female and minority members by 2020. A lot of people think that the Academy is doing a great thing. According to the Huffington Post, director Spike Lee is one of those people.

Spike Lee Academy Awards
Spike Lee will be boycotting the Academy Awards this year. [Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]

“Spike Lee applauds the Academy for making changes to increase diversity in its ranks, but he is still skipping the Oscars. ‘We have principles,’ Lee said in an interview with The Associated Press. ‘I commend the Academy for what they’ve done. But that does not change our mind. The Knicks will be victorious – I hope. I’ll be at the Garden.'”

However, not everybody agrees. Multiple Academy Award winner Michael Caine doesn’t believe an award should be based on skin color.

“There’s loads of black actors. You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You got to give a good performance, and I’m sure there were very good [performances],” the Hollywood Reporter quotes Caine saying.

The comments after the article mostly supported Caine, though people thought Caine would lose favor in Hollywood now.

“So I guess he’s going to be painted as a racist now right? comments “Mark 2.0”

“Mark, I have to agree with you. He speaks the truth and people can’t handle the truth,” responds “I see stupid people.”

Whether or not people agree with the Academy’s changes, one thing is sure to happen: Lawyers are going to have a field day. Many would argue that affirmative action is a great thing that helps minorities. However, fact remains that affirmative action has been illegal in California since 1996. And, according to the San Jose Mercury News, it’s bound to remain that way.

“California’s 16-year-old affirmative action ban is lodged more firmly than ever in state law after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday shut off further court challenges in states that have enacted such bans,” the newspaper reported on April 22, 2014, when the Supreme Court upheld the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, further allowing other states to keep bans without legal challenges.”

It’s important to note that affirmative action was started in the 1960s as a result of minority groups being discriminated against for centuries. It was supposed to level the playing field in employment and college attendance. However, by the 1990s, many people began fighting against the policy. They believed that instead of leveling the playing field, it led to what is commonly known as “reverse discrimination” and, most importantly, was unconstitutional.

There are many on Twitter who are complaining about the new changes to diversify the Academy.

Many would argue that the Academy of Arts and Sciences are not a stage or local agency and can easily implement affirmative action policies without having to worry about legal troubles. One thing is certain: The debate about diversity on Hollywood certainly isn’t about to end. What do you think about the controversy regarding the Academy Awards and their resolution to fix it? Let us know in the comments section.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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