I collated some tweets by @MarkHarrisNYC on the Oscars situation; I didn’t exert too much editorial control, so most relevant tweets were preserved.
It’s fine not to be interested in the Oscars. PREENING about not being interested, however….
If your interest stops because the Oscars aren’t an objective measure of quality, fine. But that’s where my interest starts.
Bad things the Oscars don’t actually do: Undercut critics. Suck up all the air in the room. Prevent good movies from being discussed.
Big disappointments for me in the nominations: Zero independent thinking from the actors branch; all-white lineup; Carol/Haynes yawned at.
No black acting nominees two years in a row is the first time that’s happened since 1997-98–so more a dip than a longstanding pattern.
The older, white, male votership doesn’t hate women, gays, black people. They’re just not as interested in their/our stories.>>
That’s changing, as the membership changes. A good year can disguise the fact that they have a way to go. A year like this lays it bare.>>
Last thing on this point: This is an Oscar problem ONLY as a reflection of an industry problem. The nominations change when the films do,>>
but that said, the fact that the only nominations for Straight Outta Compton and Creed went to white people shoiuld not go unnoticed.
Note: “The Academy” doesn’t watch COMPTON & say, “Ehh, give the white people screenplay.” WRITERS honor the movie; other branches ignore it.
While we seethe, let’s note that women won (or co-won) 4 of the 10 writing slots–for Room, Carol, Inside Out, & Compton. Not bad.
BTW: Writers’ names are not on the nom ballot–only the movie title. So it’s a blind vote for excellence, not for old faves or pets.
In terms of race: For men, be mad for Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Jason Mitchell, Idris Elba. For women: Be angry I can’t make a list.
I’m seeing “institutional racism/homophobia” a lot. But bad demographics is more the issue. AMPAS isn’t like a corp. w/ internal culture.
Just in case “let’s fix the Oscars” talk starts to focus on adding a 6th nominee in each category: That is a bad, mis-aimed, insulting idea.
Last Oscar thing (for now): Best early call I heard was from @adambvary, who said Stallone was a contender way before Creed hit the radar.
SAG and WGA each matched about 60% of the Oscar nominees. PGA and DGA missed Room. So “precursors” only tell you the easy stuff.
Yesterday I went after the Academy for its all-white slate. Today I want to make the case, briefly, that the last 2 years are an anomaly.
In the 10 years pre-cold streak, AMPAS nominated 24 black actors and actresses. It only blanked 1 year. In ‘05 & ‘07, FIVE were nominated.
That period followed the historic year in which Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won the two top prizes and seemed to confirm a change.
The decade in which 24 black actors were nominated also included seven wins, so there was clearly nothing grudging about those inclusions.
Toward the end of that decade, the Academy began its push to diversify its membership. So the % of minority voters is now higher.
These last 2 years can’t be rationalized with “Every omission is a special case.” There’s a AMPAS problem and an industry problem. But…
…”When will AMPAS ever catch up to the world?” is also inaccurate. In many years, it’s been AHEAD of H’wood. An alternative I’d suggest is
…that Creed and Compton were recognized as campaignable too late by their studios. That hurt. Commitment to a movie has to come early.
Compton was campaigned early, but Jason Mitchell needed more of a massive, separate push than he got. Creed needed MUCH more.
The problem w/ “The Academy’s racist” is that it treats it as an institution that can be lobbied in some way. It isn’t. It’s just voters…
…and campaigns, and a shifting crop of movies from an industry that is just starting to address its own massive and systemic racism.
So while I think #OscarsSoWhite shines a useful light on a larger issue, I’ll just note that the Oscars are not what primarily need fixing.
I question whether AMPAS can do anything but what it’s doing: A sustained and wholly transparent years-long push to diversify its ranks.
But of course, I’d be eager to hear any better suggestions.
2 good links: Interesting set of pieces in the NYTimes on Oscars & race (my view is basically @craftingmystyle’s)… https://t.co/SLcVmAfvbJ
…and do you want to hear @aoscott @ManohlaDargis and @Wesley_Morris talk about this? Yes you do. https://t.co/v3TKsnp2vB
Just rewatched Sacheen Littlefeather’s 1973 speech declining Marlon Brando’s Oscar because of H’wood treatment of Native Americans. 1/2
It’s a snapshot of how hard it is to budge the industry: People boo, more clap, they renominate Brando next year, & they ignore the issue.
(sorry, 3/3) It’s also a good reminder that AMPAS isn’t a monolith: Even 43 years ago, many members applauded that act of protest.
Theory: The single hardest thing to advocate for in the social-media era is gradualism. About anything.
For media, 1 step forward from Oscars: Advocating for worthy work by POC early, loudly, and often. That should start at Sundance next week.
Also hoping press pays a lot of attention to Sundance’s Next sidebar, from which James White, Nasty Baby, and Tangerine emerged last year.
One thing the Oscars got right: Citing Brazil’s lovely, sad, handcrafted Boy and the World (US gross: $17.000) over bigger animated films.
RT @kristapley: Reminder of Academy invitees this year: https://t.co/SiKfOcBo1S
Anyone who’s generalized about “the Academy” this week should take a close look at the just-tweeted list (or search others from recent yrs).
Today’s Oscar riff: There’s talk, both in media and in AMPAS, of moving retired/inactive members to nonvoting status. I’m against it. >>
Here’s why. 1) It’s pretty inescapably ageism, premised on the presumption that as you get older, your taste and discernment vanish.
2) The anti-old-white-guy putsch people want this to be may not work out. Who has the most trouble staying employed in the biz? Women & POC.
3) Diversifying AMPAS’s ranks is designed to better reflect the world and people’s tastes. That’s good. Artificial exclusion: Not so good.
However, maybe a distinction needs to be drawn btwn AMPAS retirees who are/were creative artists and those who are not. An argument that >>
a studio exec who leaves movies to go into, say, real estate, is no longer in the biz. But a writer/actor/director/composer is always one.
P.S. to this: Go check out @franklinleonard’s feed for lots of interesting, eminently sane pro-diversification arguments.
RT @skulljujos: @MarkHarrisNYC so that would mean that someone like Jack Nicholson or Gene Hackman couldn’t vote anymore
Biggest and most inexplicably enduring awards myth: A and B will cancel each other out, allowing C to win.
If I could wave a wand and add/take away one Oscar category, I’d drop Best Original Song and add Best First Film.
Emily Blunt, Mila Kunis, and Felicity Jones are the same age Elizabeth Taylor was when she did this: https://t.co/lQr0fF6M3K
This is NOT about insulting these women (that’s why I chose talented actresses), but about opportunity, stardom, age, & risk, then & now.
Those who don’t know how AMPAS works may shrug this off. But this is rare, & potentially a big deal. h/t @kristapley https://t.co/lgwAWVsx6n
AMPAS troubles start at the top: I think Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the only black person on the 51-seat Board of Govs. https://t.co/RSjR9a4ZHx
I’m going to tweet out some interesting stats I just researched about diversity and the actors’ branch of @theAcademy. Mute if you’re bored.
The diversity push in AMPAS started 4 years ago, when each branch began to invite many more members. That included the Actors Branch.
From 2008-11, the actors invited 74 members to join; from 2012-15 they invited 92. 2008-11: 80% of the invitees were white. 2012-15: 67%.
However, the percentage of black actors invited in has barely moved. They represented 12% of the 2008-11 total and 14% of the 2012-15 total.
And in terms of gender representation, the Actors branch has actually moved backward. 57% of 2008-11 invitees were male: 61% since then.
If AMPAS wonders why diversity efforts haven’t helped, it may be bc they haven’t been made. 21 black actors in eight years isn’t enough.
Black actors invited to join in the last 8 yrs total just 2% of the branch’s membership. If that’s progress, it’s progress by millimeters.
So any notion that a massive diversity push is substantially changing AMPAS is false. Isaacs is right; progress is too slow.
Since 2008, 7 Asian actors, 12 Latino actors, & 5 other non-black minority actors have also been invited to join.
Some people are noting that African-Americans are about 12% of the US population as a way of saying AMPAS’s recent numbers are about right.>
But you don’t fix decades of imbalance by saying, “Well, NOW we’re getting it right.” You work to get the OVERALL membership proportional.>
Which means it’s quite proper for AMPAS to “over”invite actors of color, just as they “over”invited white actors, until they get it right.
Incidentally, invitation lists are compiled by the various AMPAS branches, each of which has its own membership committee.
AMPAS’s overall invitation lists are easily searchable back to at least 2004. I hope someone takes a stab at a larger statistical portrait.
A few more thoughts on AMPAS and diversity that came up as I looked over the last 12 years of invitees…
1) About 30% of members joined in 2004 or later. That is a substantial, largely young-middle-aged group many of whom care about this issue.
2) There are a few branches–sound, cinematography–in which AMPAS non-diversity is so clearly reflective of industry non-diversity that…
…that fight may need to move elsewhere (and maybe those branches need fewer new members for a while).
3) Many individual branches will make a big diversity push once, maybe either to atone or so they can let it go next year. For instance…
…a majority of Writing invitees last year were POC. Great! But in 2014, 18 of 19 were white. Nobody gets to take a year off from this.
4) Looking at the lists, it’s easy to imagine a branch saying, yeah, no black people, but look at how many women! Or, we found 3 Asians!
That happens when “diversity” us treated as a box you just gotta check off somehow. Doesn’t matter which group gets shafted if ONE doesn’t.
So maybe AMPAS should consider a cross-branch taskforce tilted toward newer members who get why it matters. I believe there are many.
Okay, that’s it for now. Thanks for bearing with me as I try to puzzle my way through an issue that fascinates me.
“I voted for black people, therefore race isn’t a factor,” is not a good Oscar argument, privately or publicly. https://t.co/47WX8r9HjA
I know Chris Rock will make a meal of the Oscars controversy, but it’d be great and meaningful to have the show address it forthrightly too.
AMPAS Directors branch has added 63 members since diversity push began 4 years ago. 13% women, 35% nonwhite, 60% non-American.
That is what a successful diversity effort can look like. (Yes, the gender number is low, but it’s double the industry average.)
RT @kristapley: “Racism” and “racial bias” are two different things. This is about world view and a representative membership.
RT @PhyllisNagy: @kristapley amen. And the most complex discussion includes all POC, women and LGBT. Examination of diversity anything but simple.
What diversity DOESN’T look like: AMPAS’s VFX branch has added 76 members in 4 years. By my count, 73 are men.
Did you know that “Executives” are also a branch of the Academy? 59 have joined since 2012. 48 are men. 2 are black.
Reminder: AMPAS does not need to be an exact mirror of the movie biz, including its inequities. Its goal is not to be a scientific sample.
“Minorities–they’re great, just not top 5 material!” Adding acting nominees is NOT a solution to AMPAS’s problems. https://t.co/I3mzprMzUg
Not weighing in on an Oscars boycott except to note that historically, the strongest political statements have been made by those who go.
Just in terms of optics, nobody is going to say the next morning, “Wow, did you see that moment when Will Smith wasn’t there?”
Reminder to AMPAS: The point is to SOLVE this problem, not to make a hasty cosmetic decision that will get this year’s show out of jeopardy.
>> I think overwhelmingly white/male (but not esp. old) branches like Sound, Executive, and VFX are more to blame. We’ll never know. >>
with branches that do not comply being forbidden to add new members until they do. That’s it. Sorry for the tweetstorm!
What you can extrapolate about AMPAS attitudes from Charlotte Rampling’s comments: Nothing. Reporting I haven’t seen: Is she IN the Academy?
RT @GlennWhipp: Charlotte Rampling is an academy member, @MarkHarrisNYC. And I can tell you many other members publicly share her sentiments. Stay tuned.
Reese Witherspoon on Academy diversity. (Don’t worry–this WON’T make you want to punch something.) https://t.co/F3apiOWk3f
All week I’ve said ageism is no solution to AMPAS’s problems. It’d be nice if at least 1 old voter said something non-stupid to back me up.
I can say, as an Oscar historian, how rare this is. AMPAS is now at a truly pivotal moment. It addresses this credibly, or it begins to die.
Re AMPAS and diversity: The reason that adding nominee slots is a bad idea is that it is fundamentally non-responsive. >>
If you say, “This store catalog features only white people,” the answer isn’t, “OK, we’ll add pages and then black people might get in.” >>
Don’t try to engineer a result; fix the process & the personnel. Arguing that 5 slots aren’t enough to accommodate POC is patronizing.
Here are the pro-diversity changes announced by @TheAcademy today. I think these are mostly excellent and to the point. Here’s why:
1) Doubling the number of women and minority members is a huge and concrete numerical goal, and four years is an aggressive timetable.
2) Moving inactive members to nonvoting status (w/ many loopholes) will affect non-creatives more than others. A fair, non-ageist solution.
3) Getting new members committed to these issues onto the Board is big. You have to be in the room where the decisions get made.
I’ve heard from some people that the Academy is overreacting. All the non-nominated movies this year were close calls (probably true)…>>
the Actors Branch isn’t the big problem (also true), we should focus on the industry (also true). But the thing is, that doesn’t matter. >>
Perfect circumstances are not required for a critically important issue to come to a head. It happens because it has to. This had to happen.
The Academy has many members who don’t get it–as we heard this week! Thankfully, they’ve now proved that they have many who DO get it.
Now it’s our job in the press to A) hold AMPAS to it and B) hold ourselves to the need to cover this year-round throughout the industry.
Here’s @TheAcademy release. https://t.co/a68tAocdL0 And thanks to all of you who listened to me go on about this issue all week.
P.S. To anyone tweeting at me either “PC runs amok!” or “Not good enough!”: Go scream at each other, please. Non-screaming won today.
RT @FerdyOnFilms: @MarkHarrisNYC AMPAS members today: ~1150 women, ~300 nonwhite. Double would be some combo equaling 2,900.
RT @Breznican: Maybe @TheAcademy could also allow those retired members to keep their voting status if they volunteered in a diversity mentorship program?
One thing @TheAcademy should clarify: New members must be active in three consec 10-yr periods AFTER joining to have lifetime status. But >>
>> does applying it retroactively mean any voter who was active 30 yrs is safe, or just those who were active for 30 yrs after they joined?
First Rampling, now Julie Delpy? Next we’ll get a press release from Emmanuelle Riva saying Eazy-E had it coming.
RT @GlennWhipp: From an academy official: ‘By doubling, our hope is that women will comprise 48% and diverse groups more than 14% of our total membership.’
One side effect of new AMPAS rules: The foreign-film selection process, which relied heavily on inactives/retirees, may have to change.
Which is actually great, because their taste was so widely acknowledged as dicey that the Academy itself created ways to compensate for it.
Some AMPAS history: In the 1940s the Academy reduced its membership hugely by kicking out 1000s of extras–to make better choices. >>>
In the ’70s lots of rank-and-file studio employees were purged so that bloc voting for things like Towering Inferno as Best Pic would stop.>
Both moves created hurt feelings. And both were the right things to do to keep AMPAS vital as an institution. As is what AMPAS did today.
Good AMPAS story by @ThatRebecca with some illuminating numbers. (Note the 2nd, 3rd & 4th biggest Oscar branches!) https://t.co/xLiJkGPHEZ
An AMPAS member just emailed me, “There will be an asterisk on all winners from now on.” No answer to that idiocy except to make it public.
If you want to know why these changes were essential, it’s bc that kind of delusional farewell-to-our-standards thinking is all too common.
The impulse of some people to keep talking astounds me. https://t.co/xVFv32BkvW
One thing I hope we all learned from all the actors speaking extemporaneously about the Oscars this week: Writers are important.
Pretty much ready to unfollow, mute or block anyone who attempts to equate diversity with lowering of standards. Go away & learn something.
These quotes from AMPAS voters who hate the new rules mostly reaffirm my belief that the new rules are essential. https://t.co/WBXz7OunAh
Seizing a moment? Universal mailed this wraparound trade ad for Straight Outta Compton to SAG voters this week. https://t.co/lNxbcVANF2
Nothing out of Sundance will make me happier than reading rave tweets for Kenneth Lonergan’s new movie. Cannot wait to see it.
Odd to see people complain that AMPAS rule changes are an attempt to skew the vote going forward. The vote has been skewed for decades.
Also odd to see people complain that entry standards will now be lower, after decades of “I got in bc I know someone who looks like me.”
ALSO odd to hear “This should only be about excellence,” as if “excellence” has nothing to do with who gets to define excellence.
I do have sympathy for AMPAS members upset that they can no longer vote. But a decision that hurts some feelings can still be the right one.
Not sure if I’m doing it yet, but this has all made me think that next Oscar season will be a news-rich one for journalists to cover.
Maybe press could help the cause of a diverse Oscar field by not starting to assign next year’s slots to white people in f—ing JANUARY?
- “Oscars So White? Or Oscars So Dumb? Discuss.” in NYT
- “2016 Oscars with Wesley Morris” on the Bill Simmons Podcast
- “Hollywood Needs to Fix Itself” by @craftingmystyle
[email protected] Thanks for doing this! It’s interesting for me to read how my own thinking evolved over 10 days as I researched & learned more.
[email protected] 2 things convinced me big/fast changes were vital: Looking at hard numbers, and hearing MANY white AMPAS members shrug it off.
I won’t delete any of it, though. I hope folks agree that there are worse things than changing one’s mind in public! Thanks again @pessimism
Yet another aggrieved white Academy member complains. Bonus: Some needless and ugly personal attacks! https://t.co/9p6juF3zw5
I encourage all angry, resentful white AMPAS members to keep speaking to the press, because it is very, uh, clarifying!
Good (& awful) stuff in this @joshrottenberg @GlennWhipp Actors Branch piece–also revelatory about who’s in AMPAS. https://t.co/0hFnLD54FC
John Krasinski on Oscar diversity. See? It’s not so hard to say something reasonable. https://t.co/tdDqofQOal