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The issues regarding race, inclusivity, and respect with the Oscars

Does+this+statue+represent+the+achievements+of+incredible+actors+and+artists%2C+or+the+disrespect+of+countless+people+in+the+film+industry%3F%0AArt+by+Carter+Ross.
Carter Ross
Does this statue represent the achievements of incredible actors and artists, or the disrespect of countless people in the film industry? Art by Carter Ross.

Award ceremonies like The Oscars have a reputation for disregarding certain artists, minorities and different forms of film. Just recently, the 2021 Oscars award ceremony occurred on April 25 with some controversy over the pick for best actor. Actor Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his leading role as Anthony in “The Father,which in and of itself is completely fine, but actor Chadwick Boseman — who tragically passed away on Aug. 28, 2020 — was only nominated for the leading role of Levee Green in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Many people on social media sites, including Twitter, talked about the Academy’s choice for best actor and most said that Boseman should’ve won the award. 

It’s not to say Hopkins didn’t deserve the award — both actors delivered incredible performances — but it is rather telling that the Academy would once again choose a white actor over someone of a different race or ethnicity. Only 11.2% of Oscar nominees have been non-white since 1991. That, and it feels a little disrespectful since Ma Rainey was Boseman’s last performance before his death. Nevertheless, the Academy has a long history of preferring white nominees to the nominees of color.

In both 2015 and 2016, all 20 acting nominees were white; the previous two times that happened was in 2011 and 1998. As a result, activist April Reign started the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” in 2016, criticizing the Academy’s repeated history of ignoring people of color and indigenous peoples. Social media spread this hashtag like wildfire. Director and actor Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett Smith, two very big names in the Black filmmaking community, boycotted the awards for their lack of diversity in Academy members and award nominees, and civil rights activist Al Sharpton formed a Hollywood diversity committee to combat racism issues. Regarding some racially insensitive, leaked emails between former Sony chairperson Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin talking about former President Barack Obama, Sharpton had this to say, “The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets.”

Additionally, the Academy tends to disregard people like visual effects artists — VFX for short — that are vital to the filmmaking and post production process as well. The visual effects studio, Rhythm & Hues, who worked on “Life of Pi” in 2012, went bankrupt after winning an Oscar for their work in 2013. While they did win an award, as the VFX artists were up on stage making their acceptance speech, their mics were cut off, loud music was played, and they were shoved off stage. To add insult to injury, part of their speech was about the treatment of VFX artists in the film industry and the recent closing of multiple VFX studios. During the 2020 Oscars, as they were ready to present the VFX artists behind “Cats” with their award for best visual effects, out came James Corden and Rebel Wilson dressed like their characters from the movie. They openly made fun of the film’s, admittedly, questionable visual effects right in front of the artists. Any sense of respect and hard work the artists put into the movie was completely taken away as they were handed the award by two people dressed like buffoons, mocking their work for everyone to see.

Lastly, the Academy doesn’t seem to care about animation as an art form, and as a result, they don’t treat it with the respect it deserves. They label animation as a genre but that notion is incredibly broad. You can’t put “Castlevania” on Netflix in the same court as “Gravity Falls.” They’re different genres, have different target audiences and different age ratings. To look at a real example of this, in 2018, two out of five nominees for best animated picture were “The Boss Baby” and “The Breadwinner.” “The Boss Baby” is a comedy buddy film about a young boy named Tim whose parents adopt a baby brother for him voiced by Alec Baldwin. The Boss Baby, the character, is revealed to be a secret agent on a mission to stop a war between babies and puppies. On the opposite side, “The Breadwinner” is a war drama about a young girl named Parvana who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Her father is taken away to prison and she makes it her mission to reunite her family. To do so she must disguise herself as a boy and venture out into a world of danger and freedom. That speaks for itself, honestly.

The Oscars have had a repeated history of racism that dates back to their inception in 1929. Although the Academy has recently diversified their membership, it’s still primarily made up of old white men because of barriers in joining the Academy. To join it, you must be sponsored by two members. It’s not based on an application, so that hinders any diversity immensely as having that might upset the way the Oscars are currently run. All of this should absolutely be rectified as soon as possible to instill a sense of dignity to the Oscars. The many visual artists and animators that help create and render the films you love deserve the respect for their hard work, not to be sidelined by people who don’t care about them and their craft. And all the actors of different cultural and racial backgrounds deserve that gold statue just as much as the white performers and entertainers that make up the majority of the nominees and winners.

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About the Contributor
Carter Ross
Carter Ross, Design and Cheeky Editor
Senior Robyn Ross is returning as both the design and Cheeky Editor for Nordic News for the 2021-2022 school year. Her goal is to do as good a job as she can and help propel the newspaper to new heights. Outside of Nordic and school, she can be found participating in art club, spending time with her close friends, drawing and writing, and playing whatever game interests her at the time.

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The issues regarding race, inclusivity, and respect with the Oscars