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The Biased Academy

This weekend, the best in the business come together, once again, to decide which of the past year’s movies is best. With categories such as best actor, director, screenplay writer, and costume designer, all talents are accounted for. But what about all types of people? The 2016 Oscars will be the second year in a row to not have a single nomination in any of the twenty-four categories for an African American!

Last year, people weren’t thrilled about the nominations, but it was not as surprising as this year. There was only one film last year expecting nominations for people of color, “Selma”, whereas this year, the Academy ignored “Creed”, “Straight Outta Compton”, “Chi-raq”, and “Beasts of No Nations”, all of which featured strong performances by people of color.

Another interesting, yet not surprising, result of the nominations is the lack of female nominees. According to Variety, “In the January 14th announcement, the AA coincidence? Oscar trophies reflect gendered nominations.cademy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences listed 23 total producers for the eight movies picked in the best-pic race; seven were women. For the two screenplay races, 17 individuals are nominated, with four women and no racial minorities. Once again, women are not equal to men.”

Women haven’t made much progress in the movie industry. The major producing companies and directors are still mostly headed by white men. One of the reasons that the absence of women and minorities was so surprising this year was that the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is Cheryll Boone Isaacs, the first African American female president. Some people might be wondering then if there is a progressive and motivating president, why isn’t that being reflected on the nominations? Despite many women being in power at the top of the Academy (the CEO is also a woman), most members, the people who actually vote on the nominations, are older, white men.

To fix this problem, the Academy has recently approved a new policy where every ten years, members are reevaluated and inactive voters can be taken out of the voting process. This prevents the senior and possibly less progressive members from voting in a discriminatory or gender-biased way. Along with this new change, the Academy is adding more members to its governing board and committees. This will hopefully make the governing body a more diverse group of people. As Isaacs said, “The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.”