Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith Call for Oscars Boycott

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith Call for Oscars Boycott

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is under fire once again this year for their lack of diversity among the 2016 Oscar nominations. Aside from Best Director nominee Alejandro González Iñárritu (“The Revenant”), the nomination field is made up completely of white actors, directors, screenwriters and tech people, prompting the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to trend once again.

Part of what makes this year’s diversity snubs so outraging is the fact there were finally a handful of worthy titles and performances to choose from. From Will Smith in “Concussion” and Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hateful Eight” to entire features like “Dope,” “Beasts of No Nation,” “Chi-Raq” and more, it seemed likely before the nominations that this could have been (and should have been) the most diverse Oscars ever. While movies like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” did receive nominations, they both were for their sole white components — Sylvester Stallone in the former and four white screenwriters in the latter.

Just as he did last year in the wake of snubs for “Selma,” Spike Lee is speaking out against the Academy for these nomination injustices. Posting a lengthy open letter to his Instagram account earlier this morning, Lee not only decried the Academy for their resistance to diversity, but he also called for a 2016 Oscars boycott altogether. 

Lee’s letter follows in the footsteps of a video Jada Pinkett Smith posted to Facebook questioning the Academy for their decisions and calling all minorities to band together. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power and we are dignified people and we are powerful,” she said. “So let’s let the Academy do them with all grace and love and let’s do us differently.”

The director, on the other hand, wasted no time calling the Academy out. “But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?” he asked. “And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors in 2 Years and No Flava At All. We Can’t Act? WTF!!”

Read all of Lee’s comments in the post 

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Comments

mary

im so sick of this racist card. obviously there were no black people worthy of this award this time round. anyway ,this is about acting NOT the colour of someones skin. theres no people in the world more racist against whites than non whites. give it a rest, you bloody racists!!!

Sean Zackson

I don’t want diversity..I want actors to be nominated for their performance. If it’s all white one year, all black the next and so on, then that is fine. Actors are not colors. They are the result of a director’s vision. If actors of color are not chosen, I have to blame the directors for not giving them the needed tools..direction, script, etc. And if all that is present, then maybe it was just the subject matter that turned the votes. I don’t think any of this is done to harm anyone. May the best actor win.

Olen

This is the issue: "Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62." (LA Times) When diversity in the Academy is actually PRESENT, there will be a shift in the entertainment industry marketing tool/purchased honor roll that the Oscars actually are. Until then, nothing will change. A boycott by all nominated actors would make quite a statement.

Rache

@ doreen
Great point. All of the categories expect the Best Picture have 5 categories. I wonder who the PC idiots think should be taken out in order to make room for an undeserving POC just because they are minorities.
Also, If these idiots want to call the Oscars racist, then why don’t they boycott the BET awards too? The BET award rarely nomininate anyone who is not a black. They are infact more racist then the Oscars.

Rache

What does Jada thinks she deserves an Oscar for? Magic Mike XXIL? LOL!

Blake

Negros whine more than any other culture in this world ! The American Indians were treated worse than any beings and this was their land!!! Stop your dam whining!!

Wesley

*"actors; directors; writers" of colour, that is.

Wesley

Neither Will Smith, nor Jada Pinkett Smith are top serious actors, in my opinion. I’ve always thought that Will Smith was overrated. Jada mainly stars in crap. For me, there have been quite a few baffling Oscar snubs over the last few years. But I can’t think of many "actors; directors; writers" which were worthy for nominations.

Doreen

Does color now have to be a mandatory requirement when nominating an actor or actress for the award just to have diversity? I thought the whole premise behind the awards was for a performance? There are only 5 categories in each acting category. Should someone not of color be bypass for a solid performance just to satisfy diversity? I just don’t get it.

NO BRAINER

@TNC Oscar Isaac should’ve been nominated for Ex Machina? Are you kidding me???

Avenger07

And what about Guillermo del Toro, Benicio del Toro, Oscar Issac, filmmakers whose work was at least deserving of nominations, (on the set design, technical side of Guillermo’s film), the 3 of them Latinos, I don’t know seems to me the conversation about snubbs, and diversity has come to mean only black filmmakers.

Chrissy

This is ridiculous!!! The discrimination card is getting old! It’s very divisive. In my opinion, Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have no talent. It’s also known in the biz that they are jerks. BTW, I’m a black woman.

Tim

Okay, now this is a tricky situation. If there is racism going on with the Oscars, how will we ever know? A couple things bother me about this type of thing. The Oscars should be about talent first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. Why does it have to be about race? As much as I hate to say, just with what has been said already, alone, if there were now ‘people of color’ nominated, who is to know that they weren’t only nominated Because they are a ‘person of color’? To be frank, I think this kind of talk can backfire and make it to where it actually has the opposite effect, and ‘people of color’ are intentionally excluded Because there is danger of people assuming they were chosen because of their color, and not what they should be nominated for, and that is TALENT. It is all about artistic merit. It is not about race. And since there is no way of knowing whether or not racism against ‘people of color’ has taken place, to claim such is to run the risk of everyone thinking that future nominees were nominated not because of talent, but simply because of their color. Do you really want to live in a world where the artistic merit of a film or performance is second to social issues? Now, granted, ‘people of color’ have been oppressed in many ways for years in this country, and on top of that, at times Oscars have seemed more like a popularity contest than an indicator of the best work being done, but having said that, I don’t think it’s completely lost it’s credibility as an honorable achievement for actors and filmmakers, to receive an Oscar, and making these claims takes away from that credibility, yes, even just making these claims, because come next year, if there are ‘people of color’ nominated, who is going to now assume it was because of their color and NOT the artistic merit of their work?? That is something very serious to think about. Also, just because there is good work being done by ‘people of color'(which is obviously the case, always has been), that doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve a nomination, unless we’re talking about the kind of Oscar that goes to a brilliant actor who always deserved it and never got it and they finally give it to him for something far less great than the works that made him/her legendary(Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman" for example), you know what I mean? Now, when I first saw the trailer for the new Star Wars movie, it literally brought tears of joys to my eyes because I saw this huge cultural phenomenon and they had cast a black guy as one of the leads, and now it’s literally the biggest movie of all time, and I think it’s so great, and truly makes me smile. But at the end of the day, I think this kind of talk, as well intentioned as it is, and as pertinent an issue it seems to be with many people of all colors, I am thoroughly convinced this approach does absolutely nothing but make the situation worse, as this kind of talk is directly lessening the impact of future Oscar winners/nominees who happen to be people of color. Does everyone really want every subsequent nomination of a person of color from this point on to be questioned like this? Doesn’t that just defeat the purpose of the whole thing? Something to think about.

Quinn K

I personally found The Revenant to be astounding and everyone at least sounded like they loved in theatre I was at. I understand the frustration with the lack of diversity with Oscar noms. As a minority myself there are particular actors of my own race I feel are underlooked. My own opinion Ryan Coogler would have gotten a nod from me as well as Benecio Del Toro and Idris Elba but the other performances were great as well. I think the real beef people should have is with the lack of roles offered to "minority actors" that aren’t characters with shades of stereotypes for ex.

DJ

Spike needs to first answer for the travesty that was Chiraq. You know, he and Rhymefest may want to talk.

Quin

I want your honest opinion, Enrique … were you well entertained by "The Revenant"? How did you feel about it? Personally, I didn’t particularly like it. The story wasn’t intelligent or meaningful. There was more that could have been done to make me care for them.

When the film was done, everyone sort of just silently went to the bathroom and home, without exclamation. Sound familiar?

Quin

And yes, I understand Innaritu is Mexican. When I speak of pretense, I echo the sentiment of critics who have pointed out Black people are rarely recognized for performances depicting anything but hopeless struggle, and simply not at all for directing.

wolfstar

Oscars so white lol yet they fail to realize that a mexican filmmaker is probably gonna win again this year for best directing. They are only complaining about actors.

Enrique

@Quin
If you are gonna deem down Leo’s performance as "meaningless grunting" then that speaks more of you than the performance itslef. Acting is not just delivering dialogue if you aren’t aware.

Quin

Let’s be real … The Revenant was shite, and Leo’s performance was "meh." A whole lot of meaningless grunting. I’ve never seen a group so confused about their own entertainment as Oscar voters. I guarantee the voters thoroughly enjoyed Creed, whereas The Revenant struggles to evoke any emotion at all, and yet they feel obliged to reward the more pretentious film. But pretense is just that: undeserving. That Creed would not be nominated … AND WIN … for best director and best film … is ludicrous. There wasn’t a better wide-release film in 2015.

Yes, Jada Pinkett is right to advocate against Black filmmakers and actors investing any hope in potential Oscar recognition. The voting process is subject to the same bias that gives us an overwhelming majority of White male heroes in films: People like pulling for those who look like themselves. We understand our own hearts. We know that we receive a little extra gratification when a fellow countryman wins a national event. We even know that Black people feel a little something more when that person is Serena Williams. That many White people can’t admit the bias that takes place during Oscar voting is ridiculous. Black people will admit bias. We just never have the majority for it to ever be an issue. And as minority film fans, we have become accustomed to making the decision to support White actors, because there is no other choice. It’s just extremely strange that your marketing departments will tell you "we need a White male lead for a better chance a selling this film," but the audience member will deny his preference until he’s blue in the face.

Chizz

No, Spike, you can’t act. And judging from your recent work you can’t direct anymore either.

kem

I had already decided to boycott after the nominations were announced. It’ so sad that these people continue to overlook the talent of POC. Imagine if were the other way around, those self righteous prejudice bigots would raise h*ll!

tnc

This is not an issue of proportionality to the general population. However, if you looked at all of the people of color in this country then Spike Lee would still have an argument. If you looked at all of the people of color in the world he has a heck of an argument.
We are not talking about affirmative action. This is a merit discussion. The argument has to do with whether actors, directors and other people of color in the industry are talented enough to be nominated for an award. Lee is not talking about who ultimately is awarded the Oscar. (It is the mention that we miss.) Was Creed, Out of Compton, Sicario and other movies directed and acted by actors of color as good as the movies that were nominated? Were the actors who were nominated the best or were they part of a clique? Was there an effort to look beyond those "who fit", who are most like the Academy? What are the criteria used to establish who is the best actor or actress? Can the Academy document that?
Similarly to the hiring process in business, teams that decide who is in and who is not usually pick the person who seems to "fit" demographically. Is that how the Academy chose nominees this year, or last year, or forever? Or is the Academy digging in their heels to make a very public statement that they refuses to nominate people of color because they don’t have to? That is Jada Pinkett’s argument.
If the Academy truly wants to bring evenhandedness to the process of deciding on nominations then a look at how decisions are made is in order.

Camilo P.

Why don’t black people just try harder to get roles and new projects started? Don’t expect it to be given to you. WORK FOR IT!!!

Star

Over the past 15 Oscars, 15% of the acting winners and 10% of the nominees have been black. Both those numbers are pretty much in proportion with the black population in the U.S. (which is 13%). If Spike Lee considers those numbers to be unfair, then what does he consider to be fair? 20%? 30%? 40%? It’s clear he doesn’t want proportionality because he already has that and is boycotting. If 15% isn’t good enough, then what is?

Show me the Money

We need more black money behind quality black films. Development and ownership is key.

cade

The Oscar’s present a real opportunity to embarass the people who run the industry in the hope that they will open their minds and wallets and start making films for the actual audiences out there rather than just propagating outdated stereotypical notions of what sells and what doesn’t sell. The Oscars are a great platform to challenge and embarass the powers that be.

tnc

The films Lee is talking about don’t have to be superior to those nominated. They are equally as good. One or two should have been nominated in terms of acting and directing, at minimum. Hell, Guillermo Del Toro could have been nominated for cinematography or set design or costume design for Crimson Peak. Benicio Del Toro could have received a supporting actor nomination for Sicario. Oscar Isaac (Hernandez) could have been nominated for supporting actor for Ex Machina. There were many missed opportunities to celebrate actors, directors etc. of color this year.

C

I don’t think most of the touted examples are superior to what has been nominated. So I’m glad he stressed development as a valid concern

jada pinkett smith should have been nominated for magic mike xxl

Jimmy

What a tragedy! No ‘Flava" in an awards show? Oh my god! It’s the end of the world!

No

If Lee is serious, let him return his honorary Oscar out of solidarity.

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