The Academy Is Pale, Male, and Stale

Apparently, there’s a bit of a furor over the lack of Academy Award nominations being received by African Americans:

The Oscar acting nominations are typically a reflection, in some part, of the best roles of the year available to actors and actresses, which makes 2015’s lineup troubling. Though the Academy doesn’t reveal a breakdown of its membership, a 2012 report by the Los Angeles Times found that of the nearly 6,000 members, 94% are white, 77% are male and 86% are age 50 or older.

Last year, actress Lupita Nyong’o took home the best supporting actress Oscar for the film 12 Years a Slave, which featured a mostly black cast and also won the best picture statuette. But this year’s Oscar nominees, including the best picture heat, has a decidedly racially homogenous feel, with the exception of Selma, which was nominated for the top prize.

I was outraged when Out of Africa won Best Picture over The Color Purple so it’s nothing new. I guess the same people are voting as voted in 1985.

I can’t help but wonder if the large proportion of British, Canadian, and Australian movie stars in American movies isn’t trying to tell us something?

18 comments… add one
  • Modulo Myself Link

    12 Years a Slave won last year. The white people rigging the Oscars are probably trying to make this year less ‘black’. These are the same types who believe that the truth about Kevin Spacey’s sexual orientation would end his career.

    Also, looking over the best pictures, Selma is probably far closer to the idea of a big Hollywood film that anything else on that list. (I haven’t seen American Sniper, so I don’t know about that.)

  • ... Link

    Blacks are about 12.5% of the population. Proportionally, they should get two or three of the twenty acting nominations ON AVERAGE. Years were they don’t get any are going to happen, especially since most of the movies are going to aim for bigger market share, which means whites for “serious” films, and movies with lots of explosions for the rest.

    That said, I’ve heard the guy that played Martin Luther King, Jr gave a great performance. But it might just be a case of numbers working against black representation, and not inherent bias.

  • ... Link

    Said differently, this may be a case of one guy getting screwed (which happens), versus institutional racism. It’s not exactly like Hollywood is in the deep South.

    And I’d love to see a breakdown of the Academy’s ‘white’ population by religion. I’m willing to get the Academy isn’t exactly a haven for WASP types, save MAYBE in the technical categories.

  • ... Link

    Was The Color Purple as boring as Out of Africa?

    I just looked at a semi-random list of movies from 1985, and there are damned few in that list I’m interested in seeing, or seeing again. I guess The Breakfast Club is must-viewing for many 1980s kids, but I was much more of a Fast Times at Ridgemont High guy, myself. But the Michael J. Fox movies never really did it for me. Of the ones on the list, I’d probably only watch Pale Rider and The Return of the Living Dead if I caught them on late night. Oh, and Cannibal Holocaust, of course. But 1985 doesn’t look like 1994 for movies, that’s for sure.

  • Guarneri Link

    In other news Al Sharpton is organizing a boycott of the National Hockey League claiming racism and vowing not to stop until the League has as many players proportionately as the NBA, the proper number.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Other than the obvious racism in the concept, Pale Rider is awesome. Westerns and period pieces are part of the problem. There were certainly African-Americans in the Old West, but race-swapping can be pretty subversive in suggesting race was not relevant. Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven seems credible, but it’s a lesser role. The small bit of Will Smith in Wild Wild West I’ve seen seemed preposterous, but Smith’s whole demeanor was anachronistic.

  • PD Shaw Link

    From the Wikipedia entry on the Color Purple: “In addition, some critics alleged that the movie stereotyped black people in general[9] and black men in particular,[10] pointing to the fact that Spielberg, a white man, had directed a predominantly African American story.[11]”

  • PD Shaw Link

    There was also this revelation from the Sony e-mails that were leaked. Producer caught advising reluctance to cast African-American leads in movies targeted to international markets:

    “I believe that the international motion-picture audience is racist — in general, pictures with an African-American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer wrote. “But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent-size budgets.”


  • What I was suggesting with my closing sentence was that the studios (and the academy) think that international audiences find blue-eyed blondes more attractive than African Americans.

    It should be kept in mind that first and foremost the Academy Awards are a merchandising tool. They’re used in merchandising movies, performers, and directors. They are not primarily about quality. There’s a formula for winning the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s primarily a merchandising formula. The biggest moneymaker in any given year generally doesn’t get the Oscar—it doesn’t need the help.

    For quality you need to turn to the Director’s Guild or the SAG awards.

  • TastyBits Link

    @PD Shaw

    Other than the obvious racism in the concept, Pale Rider is awesome. …

    I must have seen a different movie because I missed the racism.

  • Guarneri Link

    I’m hardly a movie expert and never, ever watch the award shows, but this topic seems over- thought.

    In the past three nights I have watched ( yet again; can’t sleep from pain) Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven and Deer Hunter. I took the time to read some about the actors considered for parts. It’s a bit more random than one might think. Morgan Freeman for example was down the list for Red in SR. They even make an Irishman joke about it in the movie. It was a flop initially at the box, but was nominated for Best Picture and actor for Freeman. Then did well in other distribution. And so,on.

    The point is, I think the current kerfuffle is more political than artistic and structural. Think about what happened this year.

  • ... Link

    Other than the obvious racism in the concept, Pale Rider is awesome.

    Unless you’re making a joke, I’m as confused by this as TB.

    Think about what happened this year.

    I think you mean last year. If it was this year they’d be complaining that there weren’t enough Arab Muslim terrorists nominated for acting awards. (Best Actor in a Suicide Bombing, Best Actress in a Burka, etc.)

  • PD Shaw Link

    In a post about the pale, male academy, a reference to Pale Rider seems like a joke that writes itself; perhaps not.

  • Guarneri Link

    I was just making a joke with absurdity, but I just heard Sharpton is raising a ruckus about the film. Can’t he just pay his taxes and shut up?


  • jan Link

    Racism is being overplayed, causing the emphasis on most issues to be placed on color in an unhealthy knee-jerk reaction.

  • ... Link

    Unhealthy for whom, Jan? Our elites are constantly fomenting this kind of discord. They also seem to be the only people that keep doing better. Why, it’s almost like it’s a strategy!

  • TastyBits Link

    Racism and racist are about played out. When everything is racist, nothing is racist. At this point does anybody really take the charge serious. As long as they are not burning crosses, the real racists will be able to hide amongst the bullshit charges.

    These idiots have no idea of the damage they have done.

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