It's been a tough year for the Oscars. The ceremony hasn't even aired, but it's already been the focal point of an enormous amount of controversy and some very pointed questions. When the nominees were announced, the public was shocked: there was not a single person of color listed among the contenders. It's almost inconceivable in 2016, but it was true.
Naturally, a lot of people had a problem with this whitewashing of the revered awards show. People spoke out against it, and boycotts emerged. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was trending regularly. Now, as the day draws near, see which stars are putting their money where their mouths are and refusing to attend the Oscars.
Jada Pinkett Smith
At the Oscars...people of color are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain, (pt. 1)
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? (pt 2) — Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 16, 2016
After the nominations were announced, there was much public outcry over the monochromatic look of those being honored. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith published a series of Tweets explaining her disappointment with the Oscars in particular, and the industry as a whole. Shortly after, she announced that she would not be attending the ceremony. Some detractors claim that Pinkett Smith only started the boycott because her husband, actor Will Smith, did not receive an Oscar nomination for his role in Concussion--an allegation they have both hotly denied.
It should come as no surprise that Smith is backing his wife's boycott, and also decided not to attend the Academy Awards this year. When discussing the controversy and ensuing boycott, he made it clear that his own lack of a nomination was not the issue--instead, it was the fact that actors of color repeatedly do not receive the attention and accolades that they so richly deserve. Smith has put a positive spin on the boycott, saying he hopes it will raise awareness and start a dialogue the industry desperately needs about inclusion and equality.
I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of… https://t.co/584WXHYutt
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) January 18, 2016
He's a critically acclaimed director with a long and impressive resume of powerful and incendiary films--but Spike Lee is giving the Oscars a miss this year. The director of Do The Right Thing published a long missive on Instagram explaining his reasoning behind boycotting the Oscars, calling out the consistently all-white (or almost all-white) nominations. Lee expressed his disappointment in the academy, and called on his filmmaking colleagues to take a long, hard look at the industry in which they all work.
Never one to avoid controversy and always an outspoken advocate for causes he believes in, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has jumped in to support the Oscars boycott. Moore specifically criticized the nominees for being overwhelmingly white males, citing an unacceptable lack of diversity in this day and age. And this isn't new; Moore repeatedly emphasized the fact that this was the second year that the nominees were entirely lacking in people of color. It's time for the Oscars (and the film industry) to take a look at themselves--and they very well may not like what they see.