It’s that time of the year again where the biggest names in music, movies, and television dress up and come together to congratulate each other on another year of successful story telling in the only way Hollywood knows how: with bright lights, elaborate parties, and gorgeous gowns. That’s right, it’s officially Red Carpet Season. But this year’s biggest question isn’t, “Who are you wearing?” The big question is, “Who are we missing?”
Thursday, January 15, 2015 marked the day of the announcement of the 87th Academy Awards nominees. This annual event almost always sparks immediate debate over who did or did not deserve a mention, and this year was no different. But what generated the biggest public response was not The Lego Movie’s lack of recognition, or yet another hilarious mispronunciation (Move over “Adele Dazeem,” Dick “Poop” is this year’s newest botched name). As Hollywood held its breath while actor Chris Pine and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs read off this year’s nominations, it became pretty clear that something very important was absent from the list of nominees.
Not only were women excluded from the list of potential award-winning directors, screenwriters, and cinematographers, but all twenty of the acting nominees were white. It didn’t take long before people began to notice. Twitter exploded with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite accompanying tweets sometimes angrily and other times humorously pointing out the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations.
Isaacs has since responded to the uproar, telling the Associated Press, "In the last two years, we've made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories." Despite these efforts, this year’s Academy Awards has been described by the Huffington Post as the least diverse Oscars since 1998, as that was the last time not a single person of color was nominated for any of the four acting categories.
All of this is especially surprising considering the recent release of Selma. Although the film scored a Best Picture nomination, actor David Oyelowo, who portrays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film, was unexpectedly snubbed and so was the film’s director Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first black female director nominated for the prestigious award.
As disappointing as the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations is, at least people are talking about the importance of the recognition of minorities in the media. Hopefully, this is the spark that will lead the Academy in the direction Isaacs desires. But until then, if you are wondering which of your favorite white men will take home a golden statue, this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will be aired on February 22nd at 7PM on ABC.