The awards season is officially in full swing, and Hollywood’s finest have taken to the red carpet to promote their films and answer lingering questions about possible nominations. The Academy Awards are typically poised to be a glamorous, star-studded event that celebrates yet another year of successful cinema.
The Revenant, a gorgeous and harrowing film that chronicles a legendary frontiersman’s quest for survival, is currently leading the pack with 12 nominations. Mad Max: Fury Road is a close second with 10 nominations, which an unexpected feat for a gritty action film marketed as a blockbuster. But amid all the excitement surrounding groundbreaking films like The Danish Girl, which gives insight into life as a transgender woman at the turn of the century, there is one striking and disparaging occurrence staring the public in the face.
The lack of diversity among nominees is staggering. This is the second year in a row that all twenty nominees have been white. In a year that saw pictures like Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation, and Creed succeed both critically and commercially, many found themselves wondering how the numerous standout performances by African American actors in these films could have gone unnoticed.
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith was one of the first to voice her frustration about the 2016 nominations, and announced that she would be boycotting the event to show her support for the unacknowledged African American talent in Hollywood. Accomplished director Spike Lee also announced that he would not be in attendance as a result of the Academy’s poor representation of diversity. In the wake of both Pinkett and Lee’s compelling arguments against attending the awards came the social media movement, #OscarsSoWhite.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has faced criticism in the last several years for boasting a roster of members that are mostly older white males believed to be out of touch with moviegoers. The popular Twitter hashtag has given members of the public a place to voice their opinions and draw attention to the evident racial divide. Many have tagged their thoughts on Chris Rock serving as this year’s host, with some calling for him to step down and others encouraging him to press forward.
Chris Rock HAS to deliver at the Oscars. I’m ready. Under represented America is ready @chrisrock!
— Mlle. LITington (@ElleAre_Em) February 1, 2016
As of now, Chris Rock has announced he will not be stepping down as host. Writers working with Rock on the Awards show script have been quoted as saying that Chris began rewriting his material once the Oscars So White movement began. With the February 28 debut quickly approaching, many find themselves split on whether or not they will tune in. The one thing audience members can count on is that Chris Rock will take an impactful stance on the lack of diversity this year, combining his quick wit with insightful observations.