Academy Awards don’t reflect society

Box office hits feature diverse performers, but the Academy Awards remain unfairly white.

Maddie Eaton

It’s award season once again, and coming up in February is perhaps the most eagerly awaited film event of the year — the Academy Awards. But it seems that even though these awards are incredibly prestigious, they’re also incredibly predictable.
 
 
In recent weeks, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been trending across social media. In both the past and present, Academy Award nominees (and, more importantly, its winners) have been overwhelmingly white — including every single actor nominated this 
year. 
 
 
While this has been an issue in the past, the hashtag has really shed a lot of light on the problem. Now that we’re all paying attention, I believe it’s time to take action to address the disparities between the movies we watch and those that win awards. 
 
 
In addition to the apparent racial rift in the Academy Awards, there is also a severe lack of women on the scene in Hollywood — most noticeably in cinematography and directing roles. Not one woman has ever been nominated for best cinematographer, and in 2010 Kathryn
Bigelow became the first woman to win the award for best director. 
 
 
When the Academy has its way, both women and racial minorities remain unfairly underrepresented in the film awards industry. 
 
 
That being said, results change significantly when the public determines who gets to win an award.
 
 
For example, the People’s Choice Awards — in which voting is left up to the public —show a significant difference between the opinions of the Academy and those of the rest of the world. During these awards, it’s not uncommon to see both minorities and women receive the recognition they deserve. 
 
 
For example, in 2014, Angelina Jolie was awarded “Best Family Movie” for “Maleficent,” which she wrote and starred in.
 
 
In addition to the People’s Choice Awards, recent box office trends also defy the choices of the Academy. To name one example, “Star Wars:
 
 
The Force Awakens” smashed all sorts of box office records, making nearly $250 million during its opening weekend. 
 
 
That movie’s two main protagonists are a white woman and a black man. They’re both portrayed as strong, independent characters, and the actors who play them have received a lot of attention for their roles in the movie. 
 
 
While the Academy may be rather narrow-minded in its nominations, the general public is not. 
 
 
Film is a large part of our society — it’s perhaps our main form of entertainment. As a result, it’s incredibly important that each aspect of our society receives equal representation, no matter their gender or race. 
 
 
If the Academy can’t deliver awards to a host of unique people, then perhaps the public should go ahead and boycott the awards ceremony — at least until the Academy finds it necessary to make a few much-needed changes.
 
 
Maddie Eaton welcomes comments at [email protected].