The 2016 Oscar Nominations cause outcry for their lack of diversity

Winning or even being nominated for an Oscar is arguably one of the highest honors in the film industry aspire to. nominees for the 2016 Oscars were announced on 14th January and as expected, there was a lot of buzz surrounding those who had made it to the list. However, not all people were satisfied with the list. Jada Pinkett Smith was one of the first celebrities to voice her dissatisfaction with the lack of Oscar diversity, given that list was dominated by white actors, film-makers and directors.

The general displeasure was clear on the webculture as #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trended on Twitter. In a year that so many actors of color put out Oscar-worthy performances, not even a single one was nominated. You could here the outcry when the list was announced and all the 20 nominees were white. Some of those who were snubbed include veteran actors Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Will Smith who played the leading role in Concussion, a biopic on Dr. Bennet Omalu. Despite his superb acting as a warlord in Beasts of No Nation, Idris Elba was also given a wide berth.

As with actors, minority film-makers were also given the snub, largely in favor of their white counterparts. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarirtu was the only Hispanic film-maker who got a nomination. In similar fashion, there were a number of ground-breaking movies that were developed by black directors but were largely ignored. Creed director Ryan Coogler was left out of the nomination list, as was F. Gary Gray for Straight Outta Compton and Spike Lee who directed Chi-Raq.

This is the second year in a row where there are such concerns regarding the diversity in Oscar nominations. Many attribute this to an institutional bias and even racism against minorities within Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. It is clear that there is a systematic problem with a lack of diversity in Hollywood- and it stretches far back. Halle Berry was the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2002. Even then, many people especially in the black community argue that she had to play a demeaning and stereotypical role. Others argue that it had to take an actress who was half-white (she is biracial) for the Academy to recognize the prowess of black actresses. If there is no change at the Academy, then it is possible that minority actors will continue to be ignored and the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag will trend for many more Oscar seasons to come.

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