For over 86 years, the Oscars a.k.a The Academy Awards have been acknowledging the hard work and dedication that numerous actors and actresses have devoted to making great cinematic films for us to enjoy. On that one night of the year, we are able to root for and show our support for our favorite actors and actresses, watch musical performances, and catch a glimpse of the films that are being nominated. When the awards show finishes, we are left with memorable moments such as when Ellen DeGeneres’s famous selfie broke the internet, the Titanic won an Oscar, when Michael Jackson and Madonna went on their date at the 1991 Academy Awards, and so on. Although we are able to take back so many positive memories, there are also some negative ones that will be remembered. The 2016 Oscars has one that will be remembered for a long time. In recent months, many actors and actresses have been stepping forward and voicing their opinion on how the Oscars have been called a “white event”. This is because the majority of the nominees have been Caucasian. This has caused some tension. Even though the Oscars is a time to celebrate, laugh, and enjoy yourself, touchy issues such as racism can cause people to turn such a joyous occasion into a more serious one.
By now everyone in the United States has heard about the issues of African American teens and adults who have been killed by Police officers, which has brought about the formation of numerous protest groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter. With this in mind, when the list of nominations for the Oscars were released in the middle of January, people began to state that there was a lack of diversity on the list saying that majority of the nominees were white. Soon after, people began to create memes and write their opinions using the hashtag Smith released a video scolding the Oscars for being too white and in it she said that she was boycotting the Oscars by not attending and that many should join her (ew.com). Her husband, Will Smith, also believed in what she said and stood by her. Caucasian actors also believed that the Oscars were a white event. George Clooney stated on his twitter account that he believes that African American actors and actresses aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve (vanityfair.org). Celebrities such as Spike Lee, Idris Elba, David Oyelowa, and more have also stated their beliefs that the Oscars is a white event and that it should be changed.
However, even some African Americans celebrities believe that people are overreacting. Janet Hubert, the mother from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, said that people should stop acting like the Oscars is something that every actor should win (etonline.com). Many Caucasians feel that it isn’t right to call the Oscars a white event since many African Americans have been nominated over the years. Also, many are saying that it isn’t right that African Americans have their own award show (B.E.T Award show) yet are condemning the Oscars for being a white event.(etonline.com).
Even though the issue and sentiments of the Oscars being a white event were around this year, the show still went on. The host of this year’s Oscars was Chris Rock. While hosting, Chris Rock made jokes throughout the Oscars saying that it was too white. Although there was tension before and during the Oscars, everyone was able to enjoy themselves and watch actors and actresses win an Oscar. Alesia Kum and Amanda Porretto, seniors at the Academy of American Studies, gave their insights on this sensitive topic. “It’s all about perspective. When you’re watching a movie are you the type of person that would notice the lead actors and distinguish them based on their skin color or by how well you have seen their acting skills? In the end it’s a matter of how you perceive a movie and your views towards the world” (Alesia Kum). “I agree with Alesia. When I’m watching a I mainly focus on the plot, not the actors. Don’t get me wrong, when I watch I movie I notice the big and famous star, but I only notice them on a name recognition basis.” (Amanda Porretto).
Written by Christopher Morote