Apparently the folks over at the Academy Awards are listening–or tired of being dragged by social media.
Recently, they announced that are revising their voting eligibility to only active members and plan on seriously diversifying its membership by 2020, a membership that is overwhelmingly comprised of white male senior citizens.
While many have celebrated this move and called it a real sign of commitment and progress, not everyone is happy about these changes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are many older members of the Academy who are up in arms about having their voting rights reneged if they haven’t worked in the industry within 30 years since becoming members.
Veteran director Sam Weisman, 68, who doesn’t really make films anymore, doesn’t believe this rule is fair.
“As a member who has stepped partially away from the industry, it feels like someone like me is being victimized. I’m in the mentoring phase of my life — I teach — so I’m now supposed to not be relevant, even though I’m being as relevant, in working with young artists, as people who have current credits are…It seems like this is a hastily put-together reaction to a firestorm,” he said.
Victimized, though? Really?
There were also numerous complaints that the Academy is playing the racial quota game by being political correct.
Tab Hunter, 84, who hasn’t acted in a scripted film in almost 20 years, called the new rules “bulls%&t.”
“Obviously, it’s a thinly-veiled ploy to kick out older white contributors — the backbone of the industry — to make way for younger, ‘politically-correct’ voters. The Academy should not cave in to media hype and change the rules without talking to or getting votes from all members first,” he said.
And then a nameless member of the Academy wrote this eye-opening rant:
“Beyoncé and J-Lo? Are they in the movie business? Is Jada Pinkett Smith in the movie business? And by the way, there are a lot of Academy board members who aren’t ‘active,’ like Jon Bloom or Bill Kroyer, who teaches, or Charles Bernstein, who hasn’t done a movie in 30 years. I have news for you: older people who lived through the struggles for civil rights are way more sensitive to minority issues than young people who don’t understand what it was all about in the first place. It’s f—ing knee-jerk liberalism without taking into consideration what is fair.”
He added, “I imagine the NAACP’s film group [the Image Awards] is also racist for not choosing Ava DuVernay for best director for Selma?”
Yeah, he tried it, but it’s always interesting to see how brazen people are when they are covered in the cloak of anonymity.
The rest of the THR piece includes even more whining about how these new rules will just award talent of color instead of the “best” talent, temper tantrums about having to share their influence and power with non-white male industry professionals and even accusations of reverse racism (which let’s be clear is not a real thing).
Sadly, barely any of the quotes published acknowledged that perhaps there is a race and gender problem in the make-up of their elite membership and that having all-white acting nominations two years in a row is somehow problematic. Or the fact that no female filmmakers of color has ever been nominated for Best Director in its 88-year history; only one woman has won Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow); only three male filmmakers of color have won Best Director (Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro González Iñárritu) and only one Best Film winner was made by a Black director (Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave).
Also glaringly missing was an indictment of the embarrassing lack of screenwriters, documentarians, editors, costume designers, sound mixers and music composers of color to be nominated and win. And the fact that of the roughly 300 acting Oscars that have been handed out since 1929, only 14 Black actors/actresses, seven Latinos and four Asians have taken home a golden statue. Oh, and not one Native American performer has won, ever.
Infuriating isn’t it?
But let these privileged and tone-deaf Academy members tell it, it’s impossible and even audacious to blame the “old white guys” for these steep and obvious disparities. Well if not’s the fault of the people who serve as the gatekeepers of what gets funded, made, distributed and awarded, then whose fault is it? The Easter bunny? All the unqualified “minority” filmmakers looking for a handout?
You all need to stop sobbing about how unfair the world is and get a clue, STAT.