The Dark Side Of The Academy? Charlotte Rampling Says Oscar Diversity Issue Is ‘Racist To White People’

The Dark Side Of The Academy? Charlotte Rampling Says Oscar Diversity Issue Is 'Racist To White People'

For the past week, the Oscar diversity issue has been an outraged, white-hot-button topic with actors and industry members of all stripes coming out all calling for the Academy and the industry to make changes, and present a more diverse face not just at the awards show, but in the boardrooms, movie sets, and beyond. The conversation has been tough, and sometimes hyperbolic, and in a country where race is still a very sensitive issue, where #blacklivesmatter remains a potent and important movement, these feelings are being worked out in a public discourse, for better or worse. It’s crucial that the discussion is happening, but sometimes in the process of airing thoughts on the matter, the lack of nuance can create an atmosphere that sometimes makes it feel like figuring out how progress can be made is being overshadowed by polemic. But today, a new and ugly sentiment has surfaced, one that perhaps shows the colors that some Academy members don’t necessarily want to display.

In an interview with French Radio network Europe 1 on Friday morning (via Les InRocks with translation from The Guardian), “45 Years” star and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling was asked about the controversy, and made the rather astonishing proclamation: “It is racist to whites.”

READ MORE: Consider This: Is #OscarsSoWhite A Symptom Of Movies Losing (Even More) Ground To TV?

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” Rampling added, and when asked if there should be a quota system (which no one has suggested), she responded: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ … someone will always be saying ‘You are too’ [this or that] … But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

And Rampling’s reply of “no comment” when told that many black actors feel like minorities in the industry, is troublesome and speaks volumes.

So, is Rampling’s opinion an outlier? According to Los Angeles Times writer Glenn Whipp, “Charlotte Rampling is an Academy member…And I can tell you many other members publicly share her sentiments.”

Whether or not other Academy members take the ridiculous “reverse racism” position, there is clearly a major lack of awareness of how white privilege works, and a tone-deafness to the thoughts and feelings that many minority actors have made clear recently. My guess is that some Academy members’ thinking is probably closer in line with Michael Caine‘s, who, when asked about the issue by Radio 4 (via The Independent), said that black actors needed to “be patient.” 

“Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar, years,” he added. But again, this is ignorant of the quiet social forces that have kept black and minority performances unrecognized for years. However, Caine adds that awards should be handed out on merit, and no one disagrees with that, but that playing field needs to be a fair one to start with.

“There’s loads of black actors. In the end you can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t say ‘I’m going to vote for him, he’s not very good, but he’s black, I’ll vote for him,’ ” Caine said, sounding better-intentioned than Rampling, but still walking a problematic line. “You have to give a good performance and I’m sure people have. I saw Idris Elba (in ‘Beasts Of No Nation‘). I thought he was wonderful.” Of course, Elba was not nominated.

Rampling’s comments are already making major shockwaves around social media spheres, and one can only imagine Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is already under immense pressure to make substantial changes and address the issue, isn’t happy that one of her Oscar nominees is putting out this kind of statement. But perhaps this is the sort of thing we need to hear, because it can be very easy to forget why this conversation is so important, why it needs to happen, and it highlights exactly the kinds of attitudes Hollywood needs to change in its corridors.

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Comments

Tyrone Niggums

#NBA TOO BLACK

J. Crow

[put that energy to work?]… pathetic comment there where lots of films from all spectrums and as always many shitty ones where nominated like that bad "Danish Girl" fillm which will of course win atleast one oscar due to the whole needless hype surrounding Trans/Queer people. You Yanks shouldnt give it that big of a deal it’s common in Europe, but instead of changing real issues another 20 shoot out will happen and you people will say more guns equal less shootings. Good to know that you have statisticaly 3 guns per US citizen (that are registered), what do you think will make it better everyone including teachers toilet cleaners armed in GI Joe fashion always gun blazzing ready with two assault riffles on the back and in every pocket including the shoes a gun

Gilbert KZ

You know what?……good for her. She put it more bluntly than I’m sure she should’ve, but essentially she’s saying that this whole issue is not simply coming across as "more black people should’ve been nominated", it’s also "the white people nominated didn’t deserve it as much as the black people that didn’t". This debate is definitely taking some lustre away from the people that were nominated, like Rampling. She’s not saying the nominations were perfect or fair; she’s saying that just because no black people were nominated this year doesn’t mean the ones that WERE nominated shouldn’t have been and didn’t deserve it. Her performance definitely earned the nod. Idris Elba should’ve gotten one for Beasts, also, but then I think so should Michael Keaton. People get snubbed every year at the Oscars, all the time. I’m very interested to see what happens next year; will black people be happier if there’s 7 acting nominations given to African Americans, regardless of how deserved they are? Will there now be more nom’s given to performances that otherwise would’ve gone unrecognized — not because they’re black, but simply because they actually didn’t give all that great a performance? Not giving a Best Pic nomination to Straight Out of Compton wasn’t racist, to me, because the movie didn’t deserve it. White or black, it wasn’t all that great. Life moves on. Aye carumba.

Olen

Where’s the ability to flag abusive comments on this site?

schizopolis

Since art is subjective, the lack of black or people of color that weren’t nominated is not complete the issue. It’s the Academy’s membership!! They don’t represent the best of our culture. It’s clear now that there is a correlation. So now it’s being corrected.

Alejandro

Wow. Please, indiewire, put these four previous comments on your front page. The defensiveness and ignorance says everything we need to know about the problem. If i had never heard of the oscars or racism and i read Honest guy’s, Tito’s, John Poole’s, and Anne’s arguments, i would immediately say, I want to be on the other side of this debate.

I could make a list of the films with non-white cast members, made by non-whites, and written by non-whites that were just as good or better than the eight nominated. But that’s not the point—besides, those lists are out there already. The point is that in our society, if you can whittle down "the best" to a group of people and all of them are white, then we have a statistics problem. We have a bias problem, whether intentional or not, whether institutional or personal—although i’d argue that if you are aware of the exclusion and do nothing about it then the intention becomes suspect.

It’s not about giving pity votes, it’s both about having films to choose from and having a membership that will watch all of the films out there—Really? Spike Lee wins an honorary oscar in November, puts out great work in December, and doesn’t reap a single bid in January? But Peter O’Toole gets a post-honorary nomination for Venus?

Now, better not to delve into why individuals (read: these commenters and the many others out there) should take so much umbrage to inequality and inequity being called out. Dumbfounding that there should be anyone on the other side of an argument calling for more inclusion. Maybe they’re feeling attacked or insecure or scared. Who knows.

What i do know is if the fear is that people of color will suddenly take over and only vote for films made by people of color instead of the "best" work, then the converse argument is that white people only watch and vote for films made by white people. If that’s been the case, then maybe it is time to spread the wealth. I don’t, however, think that’s what will happen. Just as Obama didn’t put white people in chains, neither will a bit more inclusion do anything else but be representative of our population. I mean, c’mon, eight films that purport to represent the best in this country’s movie industry and none of them are made by non-white Americans? None of them tell stories about non-white Americans (except for maybe The Revenant—haven’t seen it).

Making the academy more inclusive is just one way to address the problem, but it’s not a bad one.

Charlie Weinberg.

What is so strange about this whole thing is that Blacks or more correctly African Americans are not talking about other ethnicities that are literally NEVER represented. What about Asians of any sort? There are a ton of powerful performances by Asian race actors and actresses but they are not even considered. Is this because they aren’t submitted? Indeed – I don’t understand the exact process but I do agree that it’s a little embarrassing that blacks are crying ‘foul’ but still perpetuating the same attitude from there position by not bringing up the lack of diversity in their Asian contemporaries. That would make the conversation more palpable in my opinion.

JM

And as expected she and some other nitwits who made ridiculous comments are doing mea culpas and aligning themselves with the Academy’s response.

I guess Michael Caine will come around too. Someone should email "Mississippi Goddamn" (the song, not the movie) so he can understand why telling black people to be patient hits a particular nerve. Or better yet go back and watch David Bowie’s interview when he criticized MTV for refusing to show black music videos. At least not all Brits have their heads shoved up their asses – although the one who didn’t is dead now.

XM

Honest Guy: really!? You should change your name to ingnorant racist guy. No waitl i’ll do that for you. Ok ignorant racist guy, you should work in educate yourself. Now leaving ignorants behind:
Being a withe director I acknowledged there is racist parameters when it comes to pick leading roles. There are 75% white. For me the problem it is not in the nominations, it is in the conception of the stories and the roles.

Mike

Kevin you’re an idiot … "there is clearly a major lack of awareness of how white privilege works" …. the next thing we see from your side will proberbly be something about male privilege and that you now have jumped out the closet and declared yourself a feminist.
the blacklifematter movement is just a racist organisation that promote violence against white people … that you would know if you did your research.
But is is like this with all these left-wing journalists … you always blame white people or male for everything that is wrong in this world.

Maxx

I posted earlier that Spotlight hadn’t been nominated, I checked again and it is along with "The Big Short", "Bridge of Spies", "Brooklyn", "Mad Max", "The Martain", "The Revenant", and "Room." – Oh yeah and Spike Lee received an honorary Oscar last November.

Maxx

I would have liked the Academy to nominate "Spotlight" – But we know how that got squashed. I’m just sayin’

Maxx

I’m not even going to mention Selma last year, but the fact that the academy could choose up to 10 films, and they chose only 8 rather than nominate Creed, Straight Outta Compton is the point. Certainly those two met the criteria. Not to mention Beasts Of No Nation, Concussion and Chi-Raq. I’m just sayin’

Andre Wynter

I wish these comments were better moderated.

Andre

It could be true, although good, maybe the black actors who could have been nominated just didn’t deserve to be part of the list this year. Every year so many good performances do not get recognized. And the nominations are certainly light on the Hispanic side too. Bottom line, everyone should just make better films and if anyone really cares about the films that didn’t get nominated, should spend their time actually watching films instead of some hyped up commercialized awards show. But I do like Chris Rock…

Josh

pretty racist from Charlotte Rampling. it is not only minorities though, women are also discriminated against in cinema if you look at how aspects of power are distributed according to certain roles throughout the history. men usually have more speech parts and also their roles are usually more powerful, meaning they are more presented as people how have the power to do something compared to women. women are often depicted as rather passive. again, not in ALL movies and perhaps a bit less in recent times, but all in all this still applies.

@KOBBY EDWARDS

The studios don’t like to/want to entrust those sort of tentpoles to minorities or women. They think those types of films are the domain of white males only.

Also, don’t think for a second that they weren’t meaty roles done by blacks and other minorities this year. But once again the system is about rewarding and awarding the usual suspects under the guise that their movies are Oscar/Award calibre. So no matter what the Clooneys, Streeps, Lawrences of the world along with the celebrated producers and directors like the Rudins and Hoopers of the world do, more often than not they will have a leg up come the fall season when their Oscar bait films hit the market.

Now this is also coupled with the fact that the Oscars like to hand out career awards, (again don’t be fooled by their cries of legitimacy). When Denzel should have won for Hurricane, they gave it to Spacey for American Beauty (one of the dumbest films ever, but it was so called high art). Now when Russell Crowe should have won it for A Beautiful Mind the year after he won it for Gladiator, the Academy didn’t want to see Denzel lose out again so they awarded it to him for Training Day….see how it works with them sometimes?

Don’t let them fool you or anyone else that their legitamacy is all shot to hell now, that was done a long time ago. After all Citizen Kane lost to How Green Was My Valley for Best Picture. Citizen Kane was from RKO Radio produced/directed by Orson Welles. Valley was from 20th Century Fox and produced by the legendary Daryl Zanuck and directed by the legendary John Ford. But no one talks about How Green Was My Valley, do they. So even then it was about who were the faces behind the films more so than the heart and soul of what it was about. The Oscar people are frauds and they are being called out…plain and simple.

katie pelletier

It wouldn’t hurt to have more black actors to be CAST in MORE things, jmo. Cain’s response is still lingering in my head… yes, it takes years, but first we need to begin to even include minorities in roles that would otherwise be always cast white.

AJ

A white man (Michael Caine) from a predominantly white country (the UK) will never understand the struggle of black people. For how many more years are black actors to be patient? Even with a half-black President (Obama’s mother was white), racism is alive and thriving in America. Sitting on your hands and being patient will not result in positive change, and boycotting the award ceremony is petulant and immature. The problem has to be faced head-on and dealt with.

Angela

Why do you think people aren’t being honest with themselves about the films/actors that they feel should have been nominated? That’s an incredibly odd thing to say. Because you don’t? Which is fine, but it doesn’t mean others can’t hold a differing opinion and still truly believe it. (I personally haven’t seen many people saying they do think Will Smith deserved one.)

First, I think people should lead with the specific performances or movies they believe should have gotten nominated. They’ve been mentioned in the course of discussion, but maybe starting off with that would have some people see that people aren’t asking for token nominations or it being based on skin color, but that they feel worthy actors and films are being shut out. Some people will always believe that people want token nominations, but maybe some will say "Okay, you don’t want them to get a nomination *because* of their race, you just think there are people of these races who have given worthy performances and been shut out."

And, I have no problem with someone who has watched the films and concluded to themselves that they weren’t deserving. But, all over the internet, there’s been people who seem to feel that the mere fact that they haven’t been nominated is irrefutable *proof* that they didn’t deserve it. Or that it probably means they didn’t. And, I don’t get that. I mean, people have disagreed with the Academy many times. That certain award winning films didn’t deserve it. Or actors. Or saying certain actors are long overdue for a win or a nomination. So, why, in this case, are people taking the Academy at face value? Why are people finding problems with others disagreeing with the choices made (or not made, in this case) when audiences have been doing that since the early days of the awards?

And, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge was an excellent performance, but a TV movie, so not eligible.

@Honest Guy

We’re too busy eating watermelon to work, you stupid klansman.

Mars

There were so many good performances in 2015 that were left out. You can’t blame that on race or colour. And I think Rampling made it very clear. I think she should be appreciated for voicing a simple and obvious aspect of any award process without the fear of being judged, which obviously happened.

Dheep'

Why exactly is this a "Problematic Line" he (Caine) is walking ? Stating another aspect of Racism is problematic ? And you have declared any alternate view other than your Knee-Jerk views as "Ridiculous" ?
Then you are certainly doing nothing to changes things for the better.

32 years

I wonder if the source, the translation, the interpretation is reliable. Hopefully her words are not taken out of the context, which happens really often.

Rakella

Why are there not more whites in the conversation for NBA Mvp of the year?

Peggy

At the end of the day, it’s still based on someone’s opinion. Opinions are subjective, and you cannot get around that aspect, with any of these types of awards. What do these awards really mean in the over all scheme of things, not much I would say. It’s a big night of patting a bunch of millionaires on the back. Let’s give this kind of energy to issues that can create real change, for people who don’t begin to have the opportunities these individuals do.

Dale

As a white person, i shake my head at all the white people in this comments section.

Kobby Edwards

So many people are missing the point on this one, I think. For the record, I’m black. Consider Sir Michael Caine’s comment objectively and you’ll agree that the AMPAS voters didn’t have much of a choice. There weren’t enough meaty roles for minority actors. Solution? Black and other minority filmmakers starting out should focus on making Oscar-worthy indie films. That could be a start if they do not have access to the major studios as indicated by director Spike Lee. Again, black filmmakers shouldn’t just make "black" films. They should also be thinking like Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), the Wachowskis (Matrix), and George Lucas (Star Wars). What’s that? Well, it means not just black biopics, but other more imaginative genres like sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, etc. Then they could use minority actors in lead roles (based on merit of course!)… More to follow.

Ed

So does it mean absolutely nothing that Latino filmmakers are currently on the top of the Oscar race? Or is this just about the African American community? I honeslty don’t understand why have we all fallen on the agendas of an angry wife that can’t accept that her husband’s performance was not good enough for a nod. I mean, last year the Latino community (a minority) took home all the awards, the year before that 12 Years a Slave won AND the year before that Ang Lee (another minority from the Asian community) took BEST DIRECTOR for Life of Pi, a film about a Hindustani boy as a protagonist. I get that some people are saying stupid things, but is the argument being defended here not idiotic and subjective as well?

cirkusfolk

I just shake my head at the bias this article has. You could just report the facts, but instead you have to put your own two cents in and say a current Oscar nominee’s opinions and thoughts are wrong. I don’t think what Michael Caine said was any different but it sounds like you’re giving him a pass. This actress is actually nominated which means she is the victim of this "diversity" outrage. They wanted black nominees. That can only mean that some people shouldn’t have been nominated right. And they could think she is one of them. EFF that! I’d be pissed too.

Serena

What really stuck out to me is her notion that people can be "too white." She works in an industry that cast Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian prince. There’s no such thing as "too white" in Hollywood, at least not to producers and casting directors.

frederique

anne, i agree with you that those excellent performances by berry and washington should’ve been the films they won awards for: dandridge and malcolm x. i also agree with you that the problem may just be the lack of good films being made about/or featuring people of color (native americans, mexicans/latinos, african americans etc). most of all i do agree with this: "Your quality of work should speak louder than your skin color." and i would add gender to that too. the problem may be that the people in power at studios and voters in the academy are largely white men who see from a certain perspective. we need more diversity in the stories being told and the performers/producers/writers and directors telling them. likely the rest will follow.

lulu

So if the black actors weren’t nominated because they were undeserving, does that mean rampling was undeserving of a BAFTA nomination, in which case then why was she deserving of an Oscar nomination, and was Elba only deserving of a BAFTA nomination but not an Oscar nomination? Or in other words all this rationalization is bulls*** and bears no relation to human nature and instinct, especially when nobodies looking, such as when you’re filling in your voting ballot or as we see with the ironically named @HONESTGUY when you’re anonymously commenting on a webpage.

Dheep'

This is almost Funny, watching folks on both sides of this issue get All Spun up about it.
On the one and, minorities (And NOT just Blacks – Asians – Especially – Native Americans – Hispanics – Poor of every color- on & On) – they all have a good case.
But then White Folk of Every shade & Hue, have a point too.
And NO ONE on either side will give an Inch !
As someone surely said in the Past – You Can’t Legislate Love. It’s what is in their Hearts, not in a Law that will change this Stupidity & Hate. But everyone forgets that Humans are Animals & very shortly removed from Caves & Campfires Woolly Mammoth Rugs. It will Take more TIME !
And while all of us Little People fall for this BS, this distraction, A%$#*&@s of every flavor are stealing the world out from under us while we bicker & Hate.

Franka

Amazed at these comments too. Really scary the way a lot of people think and often reductive missing of greater point. But Americans are incredibly stupid hence the boat they are in and their overall toxic culture and political climate full of buffoons. Sad.

Daniella Isaacs

Over the years there have been debates about "fixing" the foreign language film category and the documentary feature category, to make them more diverse (including the documentaries people actually see, and the artistically distinguished foreign language films that actually matter, rather than the one’s retirees in the academy vote for because they have time to go to all the special screenings). Nobody screams bloody murder about that. But when people talk about diversity of human beings, all these people come out of the woodwork and scream bloody murder. By crying that there’s no racism in the Academy this way they’re actually offering more proof of the existence of racism than if they just held their tongues.

Stacey

Carroll Ann, thanks for you honestyy. Wish others had your viewpoint. Honest Guy, you are an IGNORAMUS, plain and simple.

MAL

White + privileged = racism
Black + lazy = racism
You can’t cry racism by defining a population based on race and expect to be taken seriously.

Tryingharder

I’m amazed at some of the comments here. Racism is alive and well….just look in the mirror my fellow Americans. If you truly don’t believe that, please check out the stats re white/black murder/incarceration/suicide. This doesn’t occurr because they are "lazy, lawless, stupid, different,"; it’s happening because the playing field is very uneven. Yes affirmative action helps (although it fuels anger in many white because of its "unfairness.") Systemic racism is eradicated overnight, but it also isn’t eradicated by ignorance, passivity, excuses. The Academy is a club of white privilege, that’s all. They have no more power/knowledge of "an academy worthy" performance than the next guy. After all, we are the reason they exist. Remember your audience Academy, and try to become relevent or you will devolve into exactly what you are currently…..white, privleged and out of touch.

Cee

To minimize Denzel’s performance in Training Day as merely a stereotype seriously does the performance a disservice. He played opposite his usual on screen type and absolutely nailed it. It was an exceptional performance. It also neglects the point that he’s been nominated 6 times and won 2. For an actor who doesn’t also direct, that’s pretty impressive.

Carroll Ann

My thought is that as a white American female, it is likely impossible to understand the drag that racisim still has institutionally in this country. That is not to say that I shouldn’t try to understand. Only 6 decades ago, Rosa Parks had to sit in the back of the bus. There has been progress on the inequities of racisim, but still lots of room for more. I don’t think it’s helpful to say people of color (POC) should work harder, be patient, stop whining. There is anger here, and it should be heard. The OscarsoWhite issue is likely a reflection of systemic racism. I can’t become a non-white female, but I can try to look from a wider perspective. Lastly, the "Academy" is really just a club of affluent white folks. No more, no less.

Gabe

Poverty on the rise… massacres daily… climate change eating away at planet… civil liberties vanishing… infrastructure falling apart. Americans be like: "How come no blacks at Hollywood award ceremony!?"

MAL

Perhaps I’m being obtuse but I completely fail to see why what she said is (in the author’s words) "ridiculous." How is blaming white people for something any different that blaming black people? Both are prejudicial. By definition, placing blame on people because of their race is racism — making her statement absolutely correct. Keep in mind, too, that 13.2% of the American population identifies as African American. Each acting category has five nominees, so if one nominee was black (i.e. 20% of the nominees), that ratio would be exceeded. I know this is an emotional (not a mathematical) issue but to blame the academy members, who select subjectively at best, is truly misguided and — I personally believe — disingenuous.

Anne

Honest Guy-your comment is unnecessary. Implying that blacks don’t work? Really? Come visit me in DC, you would see much different.

My opinion is this-maybe there just weren’t that many good movies put out. Before everyone gets up at arms about "no black/ethnic nominees", ask yourself honestly, were there any halfway decent films put out? Will Smith had an abomination of an accent in his movie, so that’s a pass. Idris Elba put his all in "Beasts of No Nation" and that got nothing. Is "Straight Out of Compton" really worth a nod? Not in my opinion.

However, Halle Berry was an educated idiot that beat her kid and flashed her t*ts, boom, Oscar. Denzel played what a lot of folks think blacks represent in Training Day, Oscar. Even though, Spike Lee did a really great job with Malcolm X and Halle was excellent in Dorothy Dandridge. Those were shut out. Amores Perros, another excellent film-nada.

Your quality of work should speak louder than your skin color. But then again, everyone is so hyper sensitive and pc these days, you just can’t win.

John Poole

I’d be curious to know how many all white nominated films Al Sharpton has seen. He may have already boycotted many films because of racial prejudice.

Tito

I think there is a danger with the current argument which is because very few persons of color were nominated that is evidence of a racist process or institution. The assumption is being that the failure to have minorities nominated is a result of racism. Nominations are a matter of opinion and I am not convinced that the failure to nominate more minorities is due to racism. Perhaps the current nominees are, in the collective opinion of the academy, the best performers of the past year and the fact that very few minorities were nominated is not the result of racism. I feel a more meaningful conversation can be had if the argument is more pointed such as identifying a particular actor that gave a better performance than someone that got the nomination. Such an argument then allows an analysis of the reasons why the particular actor was nominated and the other was not. While not denying that perhaps racism exists in the academy or perhaps in the process involved in obtaining a nomination, I do not think it is helpful to assume racism is the driver when there is no evidence to support such a finding.

Honest Guy

Maybe rather than constant complaining blacks could quit bellyaching and actually put that energy to work? Oh yeah, work is hard. Sowwwy, negroes.

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