The lack of diversity in the media, and more specifically, the Academy Awards, has strained our country’s morals, ethics, and fight for racial equality. Malden was among the top 15 most diverse high schools in Massachusetts as reported by boston.com in 2013. Students of Malden High School are not unaccustomed to diversity, but Hollywood still is. In recent news, beginning with Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott, the Oscars have been deemed, by just about everyone, to be racist because of the lack of diversity.
Celebrities such as Danny DeVito, Matt Damon, and even this year’s Oscars’ host Chris Rock have commented on the lack of diversity. Matt Damon called it “shameful and embarrassing.” DeVito blamed the Oscars controversy because in America, “We’re a bunch of racists!” Host Chris Rock rewrote his opening monologue to address the racial controversy through comedy and “#OscarsSoWhite” jokes, which might actually get the Academy’s attention and push for change.
The idea of the Academy awarding actors based on ethnicity in the future instead of genuine talent has been brought up. Actor Michael Caine had this advice: “Be patient. Of course, it will come. Of course, it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar.” Though he may have a point if talking about one actor in particular, (possibly Leonardo Dicaprio?), speaking for an entire race is an extreme. Minority actors should not need to wait years for an Oscar. White actors did not need to wait “years to get an Oscar”, why should every other actor need to wait?
All twenty of the acting award nominees are white, and with hit movies like Creed, Straight Outta Compton, and Concussion, all starring black men, it begs the question, “Why weren’t they nominated?” Even Sylvester Stallone had a place on the nominees list for “Actor in a Supporting Role” for his part in Creed, but were Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson even considered? What about the director Ryan Coogler? Were they overlooked because of race?
It is clear there is very little racial diversity expressed in award shows, stripping deserving actors and directors of their awards. Although some of the past year’s top movies starred black leads, in all, the representation in the media of minorities, is still very low, which may be contributing to the lack of representation in the Academy Awards. According to UCLA’s Bunche Center for African American Studies, in 2013 alone the minority population was 37.4%, while representation as lead actors was at 16.7%, meaning they were severely underrepresented in movies. 83.3% of the lead actors were white. Could this be a side effect of Hollywood’s underlying racism, too?
#Oscarssowhite was a trend on Twitter with everyone from celebrities to teenagers and adults expressing their complaints of the Academy’s racism, demonstrating the great effects of the controversy on a national level.
MHS students are not exempt from feeling such injustice from across the country. “It’s not fair,” stated freshman Novia Li states. Senior Christian Quezada suggested that “we...show our diversity to the world and represent America as the multicultural [society] that it is, [through] entertainment and media.” The views of students attending MHS reflect the idea of diversity in the U.S., unlike the Academy, which does not reflect modern America as a whole.