Academy Awards darkened by entirely white Oscar nominations

For the second year in a row, the Academy Awards have sparked controversy over their lack of nominations for nonwhite actors and directors. After the nominations were announced on Jan. 14, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began to trend on Twitter.

In response, the host of this year’s awards ceremony, comedian Chris Brown, mentioned in an interview with Variety that the unfolding controversy prompted him to throw out his monologue and write a new one.

Many other celebrities also expressed disapproval of the Oscars’ “whitewashing” trend by promising to boycott this year’s ceremony. Boycotters include director Spike Lee, whose critically acclaimed “Chi-Raq” received no nominations, and Will Smith, who was also overlooked for his performance in “Concussion.”

Other notable nonwhite contenders that won’t be recognized at this year’s Oscars include Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation,” Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hateful Eight” and Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan for their roles in “Creed.”

In an attempt to combat the lack of diversity among the Academy’s members, the Academy held an emergency meeting soon after the controversy broke in which they committed to doubling the number of women and minority voters by 2020 and ending lifetime voting rights. This seems to be a step in the right direction, considering that a 2012 poll conducted by the LA Times found that 94 percent of the Academy’s voters were white.

Some might argue that the Oscars have been predominantly white over the last two years because no black directors or black performances have been worthy of recognition. Although this explanation is a possibility, it seems unlikely when held against the statistic that out of the more than 2,900 Oscar winners since the award show’s inception 88 years ago, only 32 winners have been black.

The Academy Awards are intended to celebrate only the best in film each year, so skin color shouldn’t be taken into consideration. But if the Academy’s lack of diversity among its members affects the chances of black actors and filmmakers from being considered for nominations, then something needs to be changed.

In a tweet that was posted shortly after the nominations were announced, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs spoke soberly of the diversifying work that still needs to be done, saying, “As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”