Spike Lee & Jada Pinkett Smith Refuse To Attend 2016 Oscars Over Lack Of Diversity Among Nominees

Spike Lee & Jada Pinkett Smith Refuse To Attend 2016 Oscars Over Lack Of Diversity Among Nominees

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, and over four decades since the murder of the Civil Rights leader, there is still much more progress to be made. If you’ve been anywhere near social media, you’ve likely seen #oscarssowhite trending in the wake of the Oscar nominations last week, in which not one person of color managed to land a nomination in the acting categories. And now, the Oscars has its first high profile person boycotting the ceremonies.

READ MORE: The Films Of Spike Lee: A Retrospective

Spike Leewho has never received a Best Director nomination, but was given an Honorary Oscar last fall — hit Instagram today to announce he would not be attending the Oscars, and called out the lack of diversity among the nominees, and the industry’s responsibility to open the doors to more people of color. Here’s some of what he had to say: 

Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy,” Lee wrote in an Instagram post on Monday morning. “But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? 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!!
As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The ‘Real’ Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To ‘Turnaround’ Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With ‘The Green Light’ Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, ‘I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS.’ People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.

In addition to Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith has also announced via Facebook she’ll be boycotting the Oscars as well. Check out both their statements below and share your thoughts in our comments section. The Oscars air on February 28th.

#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? 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!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont’d)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

We must stand in our power!We must stand in our power.

Posted by Jada Pinkett Smith on Monday, January 18, 2016

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Comments

Janny Murphy

We’ve only heard this a million times… It’s all about the performance, color or ethic backround has nothing to do with it… How about the judges that make these decisions shake it up a little? Have a more diverse panel?? The world is a melting pot, including the movie industry.. is this a good ole boys network ? If that’s the case, shame on you.. If I’m wrong, my apologies.. But it seems pretty obvious

jimmiescoffee

what if …oh my…the 5 best lead actors just werent black? this is the most bullshit AA argument ever. i saw concussion (it was garbage) i saw chi-raq (it was underwhelming i saw straight outta compton (good but not very truthful)…this is the dumbest argument ever. maybe one year all the best actors will be black. its just the way it is. don’t blame the academy. blame the writer and studios for not casting diversity.

Bud

This isn’t as cut and dried as either side is presenting it. I just published my best films of the year for an online site and I noticed that there were no female directors. Some of my favourite contemporary directors are women; it just happened that none of them released anything this year. I have to agree with some of these posters: affirmative action has no place in the evaluation of art. For me to have shoehorned a few female directors onto my list would’ve been insincere. The solution to the problem lies further upstream. For myself, I could’ve noticed this imbalance earlier in the year and made an effort to watch more obscure releases by female directors. But there’s no guarantee I would’ve liked any of these films more than the ones on my list, and again I wouldn’t have put any on the list just for the sake of doing so. Does this attitude toward the appreciation of film reek of male privilege? Maybe. The bigger upstream issue is of course the funding, hiring, and distribution practices in the industry. Absolutely there should be the removal of discriminatory attitudes- assuming that an experienced woman can’t direct a blockbuster while giving the gig to a relatively inexperienced male, assuming that female or non-white stories won’t appeal to the masses, etc- but at the end of the day creating the best art is still the ultimate criteria.

B

Susan & Cirkusfolk – Get my vote

Jason

The Oscars are just the result of the bigger problem – the film world needs to be more diverse with casting. Ride Along 2 shouldn’t be nominated for Oscars but it also shouldn’t be the only example of films starring people of colour. I think Michael B Jordan, Idris Elba, and the ladies of Tangerine deserved nominations (I knew that wasn’t going to happen though) but the fact that it’s only the same handful of performances being tossed around is where the problem is.

cirkusfolk

170 out of 175 cornerbacks in the NFL are black. Am I complaining? No because I want to see the best person for that position playing, and if it happens to be blacks because of their superior athleticism, so be it. But just to be fair I’m starting the hashtag #cornerbackssoblack

Susan

Let’s all be grateful that he didn’t tweet Cheryl Isaac’s home address, considering how genius a move it was in the past. But honestly, who has time to care about this? Some of us are trying to figure out how to make our mortgage payment and Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett are throwing hissy fits about an awards show. This is like the battle between millionaire footballers and billionaire NFL owners, neither of whom deserve five minutes of sympathy.

JZ

FYI: the last three best director -winners weren’t white and there’s a chance that Inarritu is going to win again. 12 years a slave won best picture, a lot of actors who’ve won recently weren’t white. #oscarsWhite again? I don’t agree.

Liveslow

@ MAL you’re an idiot! And as far as I’m concerned you’re part of the problem!

lulu

why is it so hard for folk to get that art is subjective, it’s based entirely on personal experience, there is no mathematical barometer of excellence. All this crap about affirmative action versus merit is a total crock, I can’t relate to the ‘brilliance’ of Jennifer Lawrence, in my mind if anyone’s benefiting from affirmative action it’s her, ditto Streep’s Thatcher, that wasn’t affirmative action in action? But who gives a crap, we can shoot off about this performance over that performance forever. The issue seems to me to be the conceit that The Oscars reflect the best of the year when to reach that decision you would need a far broader and more diverse demographic than a body made up of 80% white men over 65, many of whom haven’t worked in twenty years. The Oscars are nothing more than the awards for movies and performances old bougie white men enjoyed and empathized with, which would explain as well why the show itself is a dreary, overlong bore. I wouldn’t even bother with a boycott, why boycott a party that’s that uncool? Diverse actors, writers, directors are the vanguard, they’re what’s hip and what’s happening, they should enjoy that highly cool position cause the day they’re invited to the Oscars all that heat’s going to turn stale.

yer

Performances should be based on the performance itself and not any outside influence it’s crazy we have to say this over and over. Also there are only 5 nominees per category and hundreds of performances. Personally I think Will Smith deserved a nom, but I don’t think it’s racist that he wasn’t included.

a

So no affirmative action: No change. We embrace the status quo forever and ever. Great alternative…

MAL

Yes! Let’s bring affirmative action to the arts. What a great idea. I can’t wait ’til next year when Ride Along 2 is in the running for 14 Oscars. Sorry, but this is such a load of crap. Was Idris Elba overlooked for Beasts of No Nation? Probably. But so was Richard Jenkins in Bone Tomahawk and Jacob Tremblay in Room. Should Wil Smith have been nominated in an okay but preachy movie for a showy role with a dodgy accent? No comparison to Michael Fassbender’s subtle and nuanced take on Steve Jobs. And Mr. Lee — when you have pissed off everyone in your own industry and continue to bite the hand that feeds you, how can you expect to be rewarded for anything?

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