Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs Issues Statement on Oscar Diversity
The greatest outrage stirred by last week’s announcement of the Oscar nominees was not the Best Picture snub for Carol or the absurd exclusion of Todd Haynes from the Best Director category, but rather the troubling homogeneity of the 20 men and women nominated in the acting categories. Specifically, many have taken issue with the fact that this year’s Oscar slate looks about as white as a Whole Foods before noon on a Sunday. The social media hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” resurfaced within minutes after the nomination announcement had finished, and Spike Lee has even called for a boycott of the ceremony as a response to the blatant lack of diversity in this year’s picks.
Deeply embroiled in this imbroglio is Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the current President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science and, not insignificantly, a black woman. Her station as the head of an organization comprised chiefly of white men puts her in a unique position to comment on the situation, entrenched on both sides of what appears to be an emerging debate. In a post last night from the Academy’s official Twitter account, however, Isaacs made her stance perfectly clear:
These are certainly heartening and powerful words from Isaacs, and yet they mean nothing unless they lead to concrete action. Of course it’s entirely commendable that Isaacs would want to bolster numbers of non-white, non-male groups in the Academy ranks, but at the same time, that can only do so much. The problems in the Academy are reflective of much larger, more insidious problems in the industry at large. But moving forward on issues that can be easily rectified is a great way to begin working towards a more just future. And anyone who doubts that measures like this are absolutely necessary need only take a look in the responses to that tweet for ample proof of why they’re needed.