2016 Oscars Racism Controversy: Steven Spielberg Doesn’t Believe ‘Inherent Or Dormant Racism’ Exists For Awards

The 2016 Oscars racism controversy continues as the awards ceremony fast approaches. A lot of Hollywood heavyweights have chimed in on how they feel about the lack of diversity in this year’s major category awards.

Legendary film director Steven Spielberg is weighing in on the #OscarsSoWhite fracas.

The director spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his feelings on the lack of black and minority nominees. For starters, he was surprised that there was a snub against the movie, Straight Outta Compton, and that Beasts of No Nation’s Idris Elba was overlooked for best supporting actor.

“I’ve seen Straight Outta Compton—my wife and I saw it when it first opened, the first weekend, and it just rocked our world. It was incredible. I was very surprised to see that omission,” Spielberg said.

The director, who’s nominated for his work in Bridge of Spies, contends that he doesn’t believe those films were omitted from the 2016 Oscars because of “inherent or dormant racism because of the amount of white Academy members.” To make his point, Steven Spielberg thinks critics should “look back a couple of years” to when Lupita Nyong’o was recognized for 12 Years a Slave, and when the film won best picture.

“I do think that what the Academy is doing, in a proactive way, to open up the membership to diversity, I think that’s very, very important,” Spielberg said. “But it’s not just the Academy, and I think we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming the Academy.”

Steven Spielberg says the diversity issue doesn’t just fall within the academy. He says “it’s the people that hire, it’s the people at the main gate of studios.” He goes on to say that the industry in general should be “more proactive in getting out there and just seeking talent.”

The highly-respected film director said the idea of stripping the academy of their votes for the 2016 Oscars is something he’s “not 100 percent behind.”

Is Spielberg open to diversity for his own films? He says when you look at the films he’s made, the people working on them are a diverse crowd — with both the cast and crew. He said he’s “always” had it.

In an interesting side note to the Oscars racism controversy, BET reports that The Weeknd didn’t realize that he’s the only major person of color for an Academy Award nomination. The Weeknd — also known as Abel Tesfaye — has a nomination for his hit song “Earned It” that appeared in Fifty Shades of Grey.

“I didn’t even realize it. When I got nominated I wasn’t really looking at any other nominations,” The Weeknd told the LA Times in an interview. “I was ecstatic, I was so happy. What an overwhelming feeling, it’s the Academy Awards. It’s like your hard work is finally getting recognized.”

Chris Rock will be hosting this year’s Oscar Awards, an event everyone is on pins and needles over. At first, it wasn’t known if Rock would pull out of hosting the awards or stand his ground. It appears he’s sticking to it. Had he declined to host the Oscars after the #OscarsSoWhite trend hit meteoric heights, The Weeknd said he couldn’t see himself attending the awards, either.

“If Chris Rock pulled out, it would have been like holy s**t. I definitely can’t show up,” The Weeknd said.

The 2016 Academy Awards airs on ABC on February 28.

[Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]