Diversity lacking in Oscars once again

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite made its first appearance after last year’s Oscar nominations and is back with a vengeance.

The majority of nominees in 2015 were white males, and this year does not look to be much different.

Neil Patrick Harris, the host of the 2015 Academy Awards, opened with a jab at the lack of diversity by saying, “Tonight, we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry brightest.”

Chris Rock, this year’s host, tweeted a short promo dubbing them “#Oscars — The White BET Awards.”

There are 6,000 voting members in The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with 93 percent of them being white, leaving 7 percent as people of color. Of that 6,000, an overwhelming 76 percent is male, and the average age is 63, according to a study by Lee & Low Books.

Assistant Professor of film and digital media production Jason Pangilinan said he thinks the demographics of the Academy influence the nominee selections.

“There’s good work out there being done by women and minorities,” he said. “Maybe as a culture we’re just not at that place yet.”

“Straight Outta Compton,” a story about the Compton, California, hip-hop group N.W.A, was not nominated, but the film’s two white screenwriters were, he said.

“It’s like a slap in the face,” Pangilinan said.

The Academy failed to nominate “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for best picture, even though it broke numerous box office records.

“The Oscars are making themselves irrelevant when they ignore the general movie-going public,” he said.

Here’s what students had to say:

“As long as you’re doing it for the right reason, it doesn’t matter,” said sophomore Kendra Wallace. “You’ve made you’re money and got the audience involved. I think that’s all you need. I don’t think the Oscar validates anything.”

“I think it’s definitely true,” said sophomore Rahsaun Fletcher. “Just look at some of the entries that didn’t make it.  ‘Straight Outta Compton’ had a big movement surrounding the movie when it came out, it did well at the box office and it was a trending topic.  It’s kind of disappointing.”

“I really don’t understand it,” said junior Chelsey Flurry. “There are a lot of ethnically diverse people who are fabulous actors and actresses.  It doesn’t even have to be constricted to the African-American category. Even Hispanic and Indian people have great talents, but they aren’t being recognized for it.”    

”I just feel like it’s going to be a topic that’s going to be a problem forever,” said senior Danni Dong.  “People are finding little topics, like the Oscars, to talk more about it.  I don’t think it will ever go away.”

“I’m a huge fan of diversity in the film industry, but I think it might just be happenstance that there are no African-Americans nominated,” said senior Austin Peacock. “There are a lot of great performances out there. The Academy have a strict criteria when it comes to best picture. I think for best picture you should do both critically and commercially successful (films). I think there needs to be more domestically successful films.”

“A lot of the lead characters in leading movies nowadays are also male and white,” said junior Nikki Lowery. “It just shows how non-diverse the industry is. I do think it is a problem, but I’m not sure how to fix it without actually giving more lead roles to minorities.”