5 Things That Could Help Diversify The Oscars

It’s been a week since the Academy announced it’s Oscar nominations for 2016 and the Internet is still fuming. There were some snubs here and there, but all that’s being talked about is the lack of diversity in the major categories. All the actors nominated this year are white. All but one of the directing nominees are white men.

Like a lot of things online these days, it’s a lot of chatter with no solution. People like to throw their opinion out there in hopes to not be left out, to appear to be smart and up on complicated world problems. But alas, no matter how much anyone black, white, or Donald Trump tweets, makes publicized statements, or wants you to know they’re seriously considering not going to the Oscars ceremony in February, they can’t really solve a controversy that way, and certainly not in one day’s time.

Instead of writing a “let’s do better” post this week because I’m sure you’ve already read your fair share of them, I wanted to suggest real, concrete solutions to the Academy. I am not an expert, but I’m a fan who cares.

Here are my suggestions for the Academy, in no particular order:

  1. No more Jennifer Lawrence. Just because a person happens to be an “it” actor right now doesn’t mean that they deserve an Oscar nomination every year. “Joy” was not a great movie and Lawrence’s performance was something we’ve seen her do a million times now. If the Academy stopped nominating people just because they like the actor or director of a film, there would be plenty of free space in major categories.
  2. Get rid of some Academy members. From what I understand, the Academy is made up of a giant group of Hollywood people from actors to directors to cinematographers to producers. In fact, a lot of nominees are more than likely Academy members that get to vote on nominations and eventually the winners. But I’m guessing, like any old institution, the Academy is also made up of a lot of old white men-types who will always vote for the James Camerons of the world. Perhaps the Academy should start thinking about weeding their members out. Those older members can still certainly be apart of the organization, but maybe only people who are currently working in the industry should be allowed to vote.
  3. Make categories bigger. It wasn’t that many years ago that the Best Picture category got a boost and started to include more than 5 nominees. What’s stopping the Academy from expanding other categories?
  4. More restrictions, like the Grammys. The Grammys are an interesting award show because there are specific rules about what albums can qualify to be nominated every year. They have to have been released in a certain set amount of time within the year. I’m sure the Academy has rules like this too, but what if they made more? I’m thinking specifically in the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories. What exactly determines if a person is lead or supporting? When I think of a supporting role I think of a character that wasn’t the main character, but contributed significantly to the story of the film. Lupita Nyong’o’s Supporting Actress win for “12 Years a Slave” a few years ago is a perfect example of this. Her character was significant and explored an important section of the story, but she was definitely not the main character. Jonah Hill’s “Wolf of Wall Street” nomination is another great example for the dude’s side. A mistake often seems to be made in the supporting categories when the film really does feature more than one lead. That’s fine. If categories were made to accommodate more nominees then people could be up against their co-stars. It happened to Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine for “Terms of Endearment.” People would survive.
  5. Finally, how about more categories? The Golden Globes may be on to something here. Why not make drama and comedy categories in the Academy like the Globes have? I’m the first person to say that comedy gets no respect when it comes to the Oscars. And I’m talking about true comedies like “Trainwreck” and even “The Big Short.” That could be an incentive for more companies to get a better chance at an award. Of course, with this one we would really need to explain to the Academy that no, films like “Birdman” and “The Martian” are definitely not comedies. But I actually think this one might be the easiest change to pull off if the telecast was extended. Only weirdos like me actually watch the whole show every year anyway.

 

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