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Let’s Talk Oscars 2016

Can we take a moment to talk about the 2016 Oscars for a moment? I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that they’re a hot mess this year. The Academy has really done it this time. Is there a reason why not one person of color was nominated for an Oscar this year? That’s what I would truly like to elaborate on. I mean, at first glance it seems pretty shady that not one African-American was nominated for an Oscar this year. It just makes the Academy look like diversity isn’t a part of their vocabulary.

I know that it’s exhausting to hear about yet another issue that us people of color face, believe me. For those of you on the latter, please don’t let your first thought or argument be “well maybe people of color didn’t perform well enough this year” because that is definitely not the case. There was plenty of Oscar-worthy performances and productions in 2015 like Selma and Straight Outta Compton. Both movies were a reflection of black culture and the oppression we’ve faced in the past 60 years to get to where we are now. Funny how we’re in the year 2016 and we’re still fighting for equality and recognition. That’s beside the point and I should probably stop throwing shade but I want to get into the technicalities of how the Oscars are chosen so we can assess the problem.

How Are the Oscar Nominees Even Chosen?

Before we start feeling a type of way about the absence of black nominees for this year’s Oscars, we should probably get our facts straight. I mean how are the Oscar nominees even chosen? Does anyone know? This is why I’m your girl and did the research for you.

First off, you gotta be part of the club which isn’t an easy feat. Not just anyone can be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Awards. You have to be a writer, producer, director, or actor. Even then, you better have your stuff together because there are requirements. Writers, producers, and directors must have at least two screen credits. Actors must have credited roles in at least 3 movies and that’s just getting into the Academy.

The actual nomination process is a whole different story. According to Mental_Floss, “The Academy has strict rules that determine what people or films can be nominated. In order to submit a film for nomination, a movie’s producer or distributor must sign and submit an “Official Screen Credits” in early December. That’s not just a full list of credits; you need proof that the film meets certain criteria: In order to be eligible, the film must be over 40 minutes in length; must be publicly screened for paid admission in Los Angeles County (with the name of a particular theater where it screened included); and must screen for a qualifying run of at least seven straight days. In addition, the film cannot have its premiere outside of a theatrical run—screening a film for the first time on television or the Internet, for example, renders the film ineligible.”

Next, the ballots are sent out and voters are asked to list up to five names, ranked in order of preference. Once members send ballots back, PricewaterhouseCoopers starts dealing with the numbers. They’re basically looking for the “magic number” which is the amount of votes in each category that automatically turns a potential nominee into an official nominee. The magic number is determined by taking the total number of ballots received for a certain category then dividing it by the total possible nominees plus one.

The counting process, which happens to still done by hand (outdated, I know), starts based on a voter’s first choice selection until someone reaches the magic number. The actor with the fewest first-place votes is automatically removed from the list, and those ballots are redistributed based on the voters’ second place choices. The counting process continues, and actors or different categories rack up redistributed votes until all five spots are filled.

Once the nominees are chosen, the entire Academy gets to vote on each category. Then the actor or film with the most votes wins which takes the PWC 3 days for this overall process.

How Does This Process Apply to the Anger at the Academy?

In all reality, this issue isn’t really the Academy’s fault if this is the way that the Oscar nominations are chosen. The problem doesn’t really lie within the Academy but rather somewhere else that we might have overlooked. Now I’m not saying that the Academy is fine the way it is. It definitely needs more minority members for equal representation. However, the problem rests solely in Hollywood and I’ll tell you why.

Hollywood is the Issue Not the Academy.

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The real problem here is that there are not enough minority actors being casted for roles. According to Contently writer Shane Snow, “2015 was a pretty bad year for minorities being cast at all, all things considered. Black and Asian actors got cast as leads at a lower rate than their respective U.S. populations, while white actors were cast more. Latinos, however, seem to be getting most screwed, comprising only 3 percent of top roles despite being 17 percent of the U.S. population. It’s pretty clear that statistically, the Academy did not have many minority options to vote for in the 2015 Oscars.”

With research to back it, it’s not really the Academy who is at fault, its Hollywood. We need to be questioning Hollywood and why more minorities aren’t being casted in roles. That’s the first place that change needs to occur.

Black People Aren’t The Only Ones Being Under represented.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that blacks are the only ones facing this issue. Latinos, Asians, women, and LGBTQ actors are facing the same issue. They are just as under represented. Although there are a lot more minorities being written and casted in televison roles, they simply aren’t making it to the silver screen. https://contently.com/strategist/2016/02/02/the-oscars-has-a-race-problem-but-its-more-complicated-than-people-think/ This type of stuff should make you think. This is why it is so important to know your facts, so you can assess the problem and face it head on.

Don’t Forget to Honor Those Who Have Been Nominated and Won In the Past.

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While it’s easy to be upset about the current situation surrounding the Oscars, don’t forget to honor those who have won and been nominated in the past. Don’t take that away from them. After all, it’s Black History Month we should be celebrating each other and our #BlackExcellence. As you can see it’s not easy to win an Oscar so let us applaud those who have. Did you know that it took 81 years after the Oscars were established for a black director (Roger Ross Williams) to win an Oscar? While that should make you raise an eyebrow because it took that long for a director of color to win an Oscar, it should also make you feel a sense of pride because of the barriers he broke.

Let’s remember the first black person to win an Oscar in 1940, Hattie McDaniel for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.”

When it comes down to statistics it’s sad to say that only 44 actors have been nominated for Oscars before and only 12 have actually won. However, we got people like Juicy J, Frayser Boy, and DJ Paul who have won an Oscar for best song. The Oscar was for the song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from the Motion Picture Hustle and Flow. You know that’s the jam.

Here is a list of a few people of color who have won Oscars in the past:

1963: Sidney Poititer wins an Oscar for the role of Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field

2001: Denzel Washington wins an Oscar for the role of Alonzo Harris in Training Day

2001: Halle Berry wins an Oscar for the role of Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball

2004: Jamie Foxx wins an Oscar for the role of Ray in Ray Charles

2006: Forest Whitacker wins an Oscar for the role of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland

For the full list visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

Boycotting Isn’t the Solution

Believe that I am so here for the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and for speaking up but I’m not necessarily here for boycotting the Oscars. I’m not saying that we should just sit here and allow this to happen but if you’re looking for change that’s not the way to go about it. It’s just another reason for the oppressor to call you an angry black person.

Asking and expecting Chris Rock to step down from hosting the Oscars isn’t going to get us anywhere either. I love Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee and respect their art but I don’t understand why they would encourage people to boycott the Oscars. Remember that the youth is watching this happen.

While attending the Sundance Film Festival, black director Roger Ross Williams said, ”Don’t boycott the Oscars. Staying away from something that needs to change is no way to change it. Instead, let’s help them lead the way in promoting diversity in Hollywood.” He’s right if you want something to change you speak up you don’t stay away from it. It’s doing things like using your voice and making hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite viral on the Internet that get people to listen.

Thanks to the massive response to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, the Academy has decided to change its membership rules to double the amount of women and minorities by 2020. Those are the types of things that make things happen. Not boycotting.

In short, it’s important to know where the issue lies and boycotting the Oscars is not the solution in any way.