#OscarsSoWhiteAndStraight: Academy fails at diversity yet again

The past year witnessed the launch of a slightly desperate PR campaign by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to show the world that it is totally not racist after last year’s vanilla nominations.

With the addition of a more diverse set of Academy members, including snubbed Selma director Ava DuVernay, and the hiring of Chris Rock for next month’s Oscars ceremony, it’s been the equivalent of someone saying something a bit offensive, but following it with, “But look, I have black friends,” for 12 months straight. Going into today’s nominations, it looked as if the notorious hashtag #OscarsSoWhite would be a thing of the past.

Idris Elba was a shoo-in for best supporting actor for his terrifying turn as a warlord in ‘Beasts of No Nation’. The box office smash ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was seen as a likely best picture inclusion. Benicio del Toro was a strong contender for ‘Sicario’. Will Smith and Michael B Jordan were outsiders for best actor while Samuel L Jackson could also have sneaked in for best supporting.

But after the announcements, read by an expectedly diverse bunch of names (the Academy: “how can we be racist if Ang Lee is our friend?”), we’re in an even worse place than last year. Even Selma had a best picture nomination then.

This year, not one actor of colour has been recognised. Elba, who has been nominated for three Screen Actors Guild awards and was up for two Golden Globes, was surely snubbed by the Academy. A chance to have some diversity was missed with Straight Outta Compton’s sole nomination handed to the film’s white screenwriters. Similarly, ‘Creed’, Ryan Coogler’s vibrant millennial reboot of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, was nominated for only one Oscar: best supporting actor for the film’s one white star, Sylvester Stallone.

Other notable snubs related to 50s-set lesbian romance Carol. While the film managed six nominations, gay director Todd Haynes was left out – a surprising absence, given his Directors Guild of America, Bafta and Golden Globe nominations. The best director race is populated by straight white men, yet again. The last time a black director was in the race? 2013. The last time a gay director and a female director were in the race? 2009.

Hotly tipped comedy ‘Tangerine’, with its trans cast, was also absent. Politely told trans drama ‘The Danish Girl’ managed four nominations, but it’s a film that’s been largely rubbished by the LGBT community for its straight viewpoint and in-authenticity.

Best picture snubs for ‘Carol’ and ‘Straight Outta Compton’ mean that the entire category is populated by films about straight white people. OK, so ‘The Martian’ has a slightly diverse cast, but it’s Matt Damon’s show.

The news has gone down predictably badly on Twitter.

#OscarsSoWhite the only time black people get nominated or awards is when they act as Slaves or Criminals

— Cee-Jay (@TheGoldTalent) January 14, 2016

Dear Academy,#OscarsSoWhite? Again? In a year with CREED, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, and BEASTS OF NO NATION?What more did you need?

— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) January 14, 2016

The Oscars are gonna be so white that Chris Rock is gonna have to walk through the back door of the venue, like the olden days.

— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) January 14, 2016

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton has labelled Hollywood “fradulent” for their choices while Ricky Gervais jokingly asked why the Academy read out “all the white nominees first”. Washington Post writer Drew Harvell also made a valid point on Twitter: “Minorities are 37% of the US, bought 46% of movie tickets – and got 0 Oscar-acting noms.” Some of the year’s biggest US hits have reflected the country’s racial diversity more than ever, notably with Furious 7’s refreshingly mixed group of actors. But even that film, which Vin Diesel wildly predicted would sweep the board at the Oscars, was snubbed in one key category: best original song. See You Again, Wiz Khalifa’s ode to Paul Walker, was seen as a lock for the category, one of the few that often rewards black talent.

Given the ceremony’s choice of host, the outspoken Chris Rock, it’ll be a nervous night for Academy bigwigs. If Neil Patrick Harris was brave enough to make jokes about the overwhelmingly pale skin of the nominees, Rock will undoubtedly and enthusiastically skewer the old white men who have made it another uniform contest.

The race is now on for the Academy to PR its way out of this one. We’re predicting a diverse set of presenters, the overuse of clips from Creed and Compton in any marketing montages and 12 further months of black/gay/trans industry friends being pushed to the forefront. #OscarsSoTired.

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Originally posted here –

#OscarsSoWhiteAndStraight: Academy fails at diversity yet again

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