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Stephen King Argues That the Oscars Are ‘Still Rigged In Favor of White People’

The author's Washington Post op-ed on the film industry's lack of diverse nominees comes two weeks after King drew criticism for Twitter remarks related to the subject.

PEN America literary service award recipient Stephen King2018 PEN Literary Gala, New York, USA - 22 May 2018

Stephen King

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Stephen King criticized the Oscars’ failure to nominate diverse artists in a Washington Post column Monday, arguing that the awards show was still “rigged in favor of white people.”

The prolific horror author noted that creative excellence isn’t limited by an individual’s background and stressed that diversity makes art richer and bolder. Though King noted that the film industry has made advances in diversity over the decades, he argued that progress was far from where it should be, especially with regards to high-profile ceremonies such as the Academy Awards.

King’s column was published around two weeks after he received criticism for tweeting that he only considered quality in art, rather than diversity. Though King elaborated in subsequent tweets that he meant to stress that an individual’s background should not impede their odds at success, there was still consistent pushback. “When They See Us” creator Ava DuVernay was particularly critical of King, referring to his comment as “backward and ignorant,” and was dissatisfied with his follow-up clarifications.

King championed DuVernay’s “When They See Us” as the work of “creative genius” in his Washington Post column — the duo also exchanged briefly exchanged words on Twitter — and stressed that the Academy Awards voters skewed far too white and male.

IndieWire has reached out to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which runs the Oscars, for comment.

The Academy Award’s shortcomings in nominating diverse talent have persisted for decades, becoming especially prominent when the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag began trending on social media in response to the 2015 slate of nominees. Though the Academy continues to add new members, King argued that its voters are still failing to do the industry justice; he wrote that many of the Oscars’ Best Picture nominees, including “The Irishman,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “1917,” “Joker,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” were “man-fiction” that boasted plenty of “fights, guns, and many white faces.”

While Academy Award voters are expected to view all films being seriously considered for awards, they have long been criticized for failing to do so. King questioned how many of the academy’s older, whiter members viewed “Harriet,” Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman biographical film, or “The Last Black Man in Hollywood,” and whether they appreciated the significance of such movies.

Academy Award voters have long been criticized for their alleged lack of thoroughness. Actress Carey Mulligan (who stars in the recent Sundance premiere “Promising Young Woman”) echoed King’s concern about the Academy’s voting process over the weekend at the festival, suggesting that voters should have to pass some kind of test to prove they watched all of the relevant films before voting.

HBO’s “The Outsider” is the latest television adaption of King’s work. Forthcoming adaptions of King’s “Lisey’s Story,” “The Stand,” “Sleeping Beauties,” and “The Eyes of the Dragon” are in the works at Apple TV+, CBS, AMC, and Hulu, respectively.

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