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Oscars Diversity – Academy Announces New Inclusion and Best Picture Rules
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As protests continue to take place nationwide in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, some entertainment industry organizations have moved to respond to the increasing public support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Live PD and the long-running reality series Cops, which perpetuated racist stereotypes about crime in black and Latino communities, were cancelled. In the midst of this renewed national reckoning with racism, HBO Max temporarily removed Gone With the Wind from its service until it can re-introduce the film “with a discussion of its historical context,” while ABC announced that, 25 seasons into its hit series’ very-white run, the network has finally cast a black Bachelor. And on Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it will be implementing new rules with the goal of diversifying the Oscars.
The Academy pledged “to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31″—though the organization didn’t mention what those new standards could look like. However, the group did name one concrete change that movie fans will see at next year’s ceremony: Rather than nominating between 5 and 10 Best Picture candidates, as the Academy has done since 2011, 10 movies each year will receive nods. It’s a move that could increase the likelihood that films with non-white stars and creators receive the prestigious nomination.
In recent years, the Academy has been criticized for its largely white nominations slate, leading to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite first going viral in 2015. The big winner at this year’s 92nd Academy Awards was Parasite, a South Korean film, but few other feature films from non-white writers and directors were nominated for awards, and only one non-white actor, Harriet star Cynthia Erivo, received a nod.
Last week, actor David Oyelowo revealed that members of the Academy told producers of Ava DuVernay’s 2014 film Selma that they would not vote for the movie because its cast attended its premiere wearing T-shirts that commemorated the police killing of Eric Garner.
While onscreen diversity has made considerable strides in recent years, progress behind the camera has been far slower. Not a single black filmmaker has ever won the Best Director Oscar, and in 2019, under 15 percent of Hollywood’s top films were written or directed by people of color. Hopefully the Academy’s diversity standards will be rigorous enough to force trophy-hungry studios and filmmakers to practice more inclusive hiring across the board.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.
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