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Hollywood diversifies the Oscars

The Oscars progress in the direction of diversity but there is still a need for improvement.   |   Courtesy of tribute.ca

 

Although the 2016 Academy Awards season brought into question the Oscars' role in diversity, the 2017 Academy Awards displayed a progressive direction.

Progressive direction

Last year, The Academy received accusations of “whitewashing.” These accusations stemmed from the fact that only white actors and actresses received the major awards and, to fans of film, it seemed an unfair and unjust event in Hollywood history.

Coming into the 2017 Academy Awards season, the conflict over Hollywood “whitewashing” remained a concern. Diversity has always been questioned within Hollywood. It is believed that there has not been enough diversity in who is winning the awards, which ultimately has caused conflict and questioning by the general public. However, the film “Moonlight” received a major victory when it took home three Oscars, including best picture. Because the film dealt with a heavy topic and was heavily grounded in diversity, its winnings were groundbreaking in the world of cinema.

Mixed opinions

Some of Biola University’s students’ answers varied when questioned about how diversity played a role in this year’s Oscars. Some believed it could have been more diverse and others believed it definitely hit the mark in recognizing talent from all spectrums. 

“In terms of diversity, many people believe that just means more African Americans being represented,” said Jon Mull, junior sociology major. “However, I believe there is still a lot we need to do in terms of Hispanic representation, Asian American representation, et cetera.”

“The Oscars this time were actually recognizing good talent,”  said Baylee Hoey, senior psychology major, displaying a more positive outlook on the results of the ceremony.

Two Biola professors also shared their point of view of the event. Nancy Wang Yuen, sociology professor and writer of the book “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism,” provided several points regarding The Oscars as an institution, pointing out the Academy has taken steps in the right direction, but Latinos and Asian Americans still need more representation.

Room for improvement

In regards to the historic event between “La La Land” announced as best picture but “Moonlight” actually receiving the award instead, Yuen said, “I was happy that Moonlight won but I was unhappy with the reaction from the press. They were focusing on the reactions from the cast of ‘La La Land’ such as Emma Stone, more so than the cast of Moonlight.”

When the mistake occurred, the press focused on Emma Stone’s reaction on the matter and praised the producer for being so gracious in giving the award away. These people drew more attention to “La La Land” rather than “Moonlight,” the film that actually won the award. This was amiss for the press because the film had an all-African American cast and crew.

“The diversity problem goes a lot deeper than just the acting categories. They go all the way down to the lowliest crew member,” said John Schmidt, associate professor of cinema and media arts. “Women directors are significantly underrepresented in Hollywood. However, the Academy has really worked hard this year in having an influx of members. We want the diversity of films on every level to reflect the diversity we have increasing in our culture and our country.”

While this year's Oscars improved in the area of diversity, audiences desire the Academy expand diversification to more minority groups

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