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Will Gibbs

Guest Column: Hollywood needs diversity, as evident by ‘white’ Oscar nominations

This year’s Oscars are the “most white” year for the Academy Awards since 1998 — fewer minorities were nominated for the highest awards than any year after 1998.

Putting aside the fact that the Oscar voters are an overwhelming 74 percent male and that many women are often excluded from nominations in categories that are not specifically designated for them, 94 percent of the voters are white. In a time when race relations’ conflicts are arguably at their highest since the 1960’s, this is not only a disappointment for Oscar voters, but a disappointment for Hollywood itself.

In recent memory, only movies that deal with black issues, like 12 Years a Slave and Selma, have been nominated for awards, while films that are predominantly casted with white people continuously walk home with the trophies.

Unfortunately for the Academy, social media did not sweep this realization under the rug.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became a trending topic on Twitter, which was used as a forum for those upset by the snubs for minority actors.

The hashtag was created to show the blatant disconnect the voters have with people who actually watch movies.

Although it’s true that Selma — this year’s hit movie about Martin Luther King Jr. — was nominated for Best Picture, many fans were upset that the film was “snubbed” in the director and all the acting categories.

Voters and those who see no problem with the nominations could certainly make a case that Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma, and David Oyelowo, the lead character, were simply not as good in their roles as the people who were nominated in their place. However, with everything in the news dealing with racial injustices recently, it certainly does not help the snow-colored stigma the Oscars carries with it.

The problem does not solely rest on the head of the voters, though. Hollywood itself just does not produce as many “black” films as it does “white” ones, which is the first thing that needs to change.

Moviemakers, any color of the rainbow, need to make more movies starring a mix of characters of all races if the world wants to see any progress in award shows.

Part of that is due to the probable racism that has rooted itself deeply in the silver screen, but some of it is the fault of us, the viewers.

Movies that make money are going to beget similar ones, so if moviegoers only pay to see a film cast with a predominantly white cast, those are the kind of movies likely to be funded again.

If people want to see more diverse films nominated for awards, then more need to actually be made. That means movie attendees have to get up and go to the theater to see films of all varieties, not just ones with characters resembling themselves.

Will Gibbs is a sophomore studying journalism and a culture writer at The Post. Email him at wg868213@ohio.edu or find him on Twitter at @w_gibbs.

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