#OSCARSSOWHITE : A Matter of Race

As black history month comes to a close, let’s talk about racial representation, particularly in regard to the 87th Academy Awards. This year the Oscars were watched by 34.6 million people worldwide—a considerable chunk of the world’s population!

I think it’s safe to say that if you’re watching the Oscars you must, even in the smallest of ways, care about the Oscars. It might be a life-long aspiration to win one of those pretty golden trophies, or even simply because your girlfriend is into it. Regardless, people who are attentive to the Academy Awards set multitudes of standards. It also doesn’t hurt that filmmaking is among one of the nation’s most lucrative and growing industries.

The “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” (AMPAS) consists of members that are allowed into this super prestigious organization by invitation only. These high-profile invitations are selected and sent with a blessing from the Board of Governors and once you’re in, you’re in for life. (Admittedly, this is really cool).
So let’s get to the problem: with about 6,000 members, a whopping 93% of Oscar voters are white. Of those 6,000, 76% are male, and their average age is 63. So we have this really important organization (consisting of a mostly elderly white males) voting on what motion pictures, actresses, and original songs are ranked “the best” of the cinematic year.

Bearing this in mind, let’s look at the number of Black academy award winners (using the image below from International Business Times):

oscarsblackwinnerscategory

A little concerning right?

Obviously, I’m not the first one to notice this. AMPAS’ President, Cheryle Boone Isaacs, has already responded to lawyer and blogger April Reign’s #OSCARSSOWHITE viral trend. Boone Isaacs expressed that she was would love see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories and that the Academy “continues to make strides toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization.” Cheryle continued on to declare that that it was Hollywood itself that needed to become more racially diverse “as an economic imperative, if not a moral one.”

Norwegian animator Bard Edlund created a great video comprehensively depicting the racial distribution of past Oscar winners.

Check it out!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/119899916″>Diversity Among Winners at the Oscars</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/edlundart”>Bard Edlund</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

-Alexander Santos

Images & Related Links:
http://www.ibtimes.com/oscars-2015-infographic-how-white-are-87th-academy-awards-1824028
Final Oscar Ratings: Demo Stays Lowest Since 2008, Viewership Worst Since 2009
http://nypost.com/2015/01/17/academy-president-responds-to-lack-of-oscars-diversity/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccatheodore/2015/02/22/oscars-so-white-black-twitter-boycott/

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