2016 Oscar nominations lack diversity

When the nominees of the 88th Academy Awards were announced in January, there was one common theme throughout: all nominees of best and supporting actor and actresses were white. Additionally, almost all directing, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects, and cinematography nominations were awarded to white males. This is the second year that the hashtag #OcarsSoWhite has trended due to the lack of diversity represented in the nominations. According to Variety magazine, minorities make up more than 36 percent of the U.S. population, but represent only 10 percent of lead characters in movies. Also, 94% of Oscar voters are white, which may affect who gets nominated for awards.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith was one of the first to tweet about the lack of diversity in the nominations, writing, “at the Oscars … people of color are always welcomed to give out awards … even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments.” On the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, January 15, Pinkett-Smith posted a video of herself saying, “I can’t help but ask the question — Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed? We no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere.”

This post prompted many notable stars, such as George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg, Lupita Nyong’o, Spike Lee, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, to express their outrage that, for the second year in a row, not a single acting nominee is a person of color, and some have even gone as far as to boycott the Academy Awards ceremony, according to The Daily Beast. The Academy met January 26, a previously scheduled meeting, that focused on the recent backlash they had received regarding this year’s nominations.

African American comedian Chris Rock, who is hosting this year’s Academy Awards on February 28, has been pressured by fellow stars to boycott the ceremony and vocalize his opinions on the issue. According to Entertainment Weekly, Oscar producer Reginald Hudlin has denied that the comedian is going to boycott, and says that “as things got a little provocative and exciting, he [Chris Rock] said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’” Hudlin added that the Academy is prepared for multiple jokes regarding the lack of diversity.

Many movie-lovers were surprised to see that some major films of the year did not make the Oscar cut. Notable oversights included the film Straight Outta Compton and actors Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Will Smith in Concussion, and Michael B. Jordan in Creed.

Many people have speculated how this controversy will affect the ratings of ABC television, which is showing the awards ceremony. Last year, nominations were awarded to a similarly non-diverse group, and the  presentation of the Oscars hit a four-year rating low. Advertising Age reported: “Of the 37.3 million overall viewers who watched the broadcast (in 2015), only 2.4 million, or 6%, were African American. That’s roughly half the turnout in years when the slate of nominees is more inclusive. Over the last 10 years, the Oscars have averaged 38.8 million total viewers, of which approximately 3.2 million, or 8%, were African American.”

This controversy has impacted not only the world of Hollywood but has spread into larger society as well. Social media has played an important role in the ongoing discussion, with many people expressing their opinions on these internet platforms. I think it’s safe to say that this year’s winners might “forget” to thank the academy when it comes time for their acceptance speeches.

Ethnicity breakdown of 2016 Academy Award Nominations for leading and supporting actors, directing, and writing.

Ethnicity Breakdown graph

Ethnicity Breakdown key

Data/image source: Graphiq. Image source for Oscar statuette:

Comments are closed.