Lack of diversity still evident in Academy Awards

Michaela Ely, Web Editor

The Academy Awards, or more widely known as the Oscars, are yet again being criticized due to their lack of diversity. The Academy has again managed to ignore major achievements by women and by people of color.

One major example of this was the nominations in the Best Director category. Every single director nominated was male. Now, I won’t complain about who actually won the category because Bong Joon-ho is an excellent director who deserved every Oscar he won. However, the lack of female nominations is disappointing. Between Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons, Hustlers, directed by Lorene Scafaria, Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig and so many more, it is unbelievable that no women were nominated under the Best Director category this year. 

Over the past 92 years, only five women have been nominated for Best Director with only one winning the award. 

There was also a severe lack of diversity in other categories with Cynthia Erivo being the only person of color nominated for Best Actress and no people of color nominated in the Best Actor category. During the opening monologue at the Oscars, it was acknowledged that in 1929 there were no black nominees and now that it’s 2020, we have one. One black nominee. Can’t we all see how ridiculous this is? The blatant racism and sexism of the Academy has not disappeared like it should have years ago. Many have faith that the Academy will remedy this issue. At this rate, I’m not so sure.

Janelle Monae’s performance with Billy Porter at the awards perfectly called out the awards for being “so white,” in reference to the hashtag on Twitter started in 2015 by April Reign. The movement was started in order to bring to light the immense lack of diversity throughout the Academy. The numbers have improved since 2015 but the movement still remains relevant as it was never just about race. It was also about gender identity, sexual orientation and other underrepresented communities. 

The Academy needed Parasite to win Best Picture. The win was historic, due to it being the first movie in a foreign language to ever win Best Picture. But the Academy recognizing their problem with diversity is not enough when they aren’t taking meaningful steps in order to solve this issue. Parasite received six total nominations, all of which were deserved, but let us notice that none of the cast were nominated. And here’s something to remember; those who participate in voting for what will receive nominations and awards are not required to view the films before they vote. The Oscars are a glorified popularity contest among straight, white men.

During the awards themselves, it seems like there were many attempts made by the Academy to detract from the issue at hand. Monae and Porter’s performance, while politically charged, also recognize that it was a strategic move, and an attempt to pander to women by having Gal Gadot, Brie Larson and Sigourney Weaver announce the first woman to ever conduct the orchestra during the show but only for the orchestra’s performance for the nominated film scores, the Academy fell drastically short. Joaquin Phoenix, who won the Best Actor category this year, acknowledged during the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) earlier this year that the Academy is sending a very clear message to people of color that they are not welcome here.

We cannot continue, as society progresses, to let these injustices go without action. We cannot allow this systemic oppression to continue, we cannot allow women and people of color to be treated as less. The Oscars are only one of many examples of sexism and racism throughout the country and throughout the world. We must set a precedent that this sort of oppression will no longer be tolerated.

It’s a possibility that the Academy will go even further next year in order to remedy their issue with diversity but it’s also possible that they will continue to backslide without trying to resolve the issue at all. All I know is that those who created this unfair system must be the ones to dismantle it.