Oscar nominations cause controversy

Photo from oscar.go.com

Photo from oscar.go.com

Jenevieve Woods, Staff Writer

There has been a massive controversy over the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. Across the board, all the nominations this year are people of non-color. The hullabaloo is being backed by director Spike Lee and his wife. Spike Lee says he is outraged that this is the second consecutive year where all the nominations are white. He made this public on Instagram on Martin Luther King Jr. Day saying that he is taking a stand. He says he feels that it is right in his conscience to boycott the event.

I am curious as to why this is the first year they are making this a big deal. Why didn’t they complain last year when the same thing happened? This all started on Saturday, January 16th when Jada Pinkett Smith took to Twitter to express her opinion by saying that she felt as if the African-American artistic community was not being represented for their talent (actor Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith are planning on not going to the ceremony).

The members of the academy who vote for the nominations are the people who work in the field of filmmaking. They are writers, producers, and directors that must have at least two screen credits to their names and must be active in their field for a certain number of years. They can also find two or more current members to sponsor them; then their membership is either approved or denied by the Academy Committee and their Board of Governors. Nominations or automatic consideration can also occur through winning an Oscar and not being an official, current member. Once the person is in the Academy, they can only vote according to the field they work in. For example, Brad Pitt can only vote for the Best Actor nominees. The academy has strict rules that determine which people or films can be nominated. A film’s director or producer must sign and submit the “Official Screen Credits” in early December.

You also need certain criteria in order to be eligible. None of these people can have a racist agenda and can only vote on the merits of the acting or directing. Even if these people did perchance have a hidden agenda, the president of the Academy is African-American (and the first one for that matter), Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She would probably not want to take down her own people. She released a statement on Monday, January 18th saying that she is “…heartbroken and frustrated and agrees that this important change is needed”. The change is not coming as fast as we would like, but we do need to do more, and we need to do it fast.

Ice Cube himself shares his views about the award, saying, “…The award is not something that defines actors, but is cool anyways.” On Friday, January 22nd on The Graham Norton Show he also said that “…actors do not make films for the industry, but for the fans.” He does not feel offended as an African-American and an actor in Hollywood. The director of the film 12 Years of Slave, Steve McQueen, says that the real issue is the movies being made and the decisions made by the heads of the studios, television companies, and cable companies. They make the decisions about what is being made. On Wednesday, January 27th, Isaacs and the CEO of AMPAS, Dawn Hudson, sat down for an hour-long interview with The Hollywood Reporter during which they revealed, “…The academy is based on tradition and rules. It is not trying to be politically correct. They are worried about making the best of the best of the film industry. If you do not have the best artists voting, there is no clear reflection of the best of film culture. This controversy seems to be made up by a select couple of people, not everybody is upset.”