“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?”
So goes the opening to George Clooney’s statement to Variety about the controversy that’s currently taking over Oscar coverage. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting the ceremonies, and David Oyelowo took his case right to the doorstep of Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. However, Clooney is taking the position that things were acceptable at one point, but have since slid.
“Let’s look back at some of the nominees. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table,” he said, naming “Creed,” “Concussion,” “Beasts Of No Nation,” and “Straight Outta Compton” as pictures that were viable contenders, while also pointing out the poor showing of “Selma” at last year’s Oscars.
Clooney wraps up his thoughts by saying, “There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
I’m not quite sure that I agree that things at one time were better in Hollywood when it came to this issue, and I’m sure there are many in the industry who feel the same. And Clooney also talks around addressing what steps he believes should be taken to make sure there’s more diversity across the board. But perhaps in this climate where there are just as many who think this issue is overblown, at least having it recognized is a positive thing.