Academy awards criticized for lacking diversity again


Photo courtesy of Ozgur Donmaz/Getty Images

Oscar trophies in a souvenir store in Hollywood, CA.

Joshua Letona, Entertainment Managing Editor

Award season has begun as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its nominees for the 2020 Oscars and controversy is already underway.

 The nominations, which were announced Jan. 13, have already stirred some issues revolving around the number of women and people of color nominated. This has been an ongoing issue for the Academy.

“Until the Academy members become more reflective of the world population, I believe that this will continue to be the case,” said Cal State LA TVF professor Ligiah Villalobos in an email interview.

 The organization reports that it has made strides to diversify its membership by adding 842 news members across 59 countries in 2019. Of those new members, 50 percent were women and 29 percent were people of color, according to the Academy. Overall, women now make up a third of the Academy, while people of color make up 16 percent.

 Both numbers have increased since 2015, women were a quarter of the Academy and people of color were only eight percent. Yet, some still feel the nominations are not reflective of the times.

“You want to know how I feel about the Oscar nominations? The same way I feel about this statistic. Enough said,” said Villalobos when citing a chart from LA Collab, a nonprofit organization for advancing Latino access and representation in media.

 The information from the chart came from an August 2019 study from the USC Annenberg.

Across the top 100 grossing films from 2017 to 2018, three percent featured Latinos in lead or co-lead roles, according to the USC study. At the time, 23 percent of movie tickets sold to Latinx people as they make up about 18 percent of the United States population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

 When it comes to the nominations, only a handful of Latinx people made the cut.

 Between all four acting categories, only two people of color were nominated: Antonio Banderas for “Pain and Glory” and Cynthia Erivo for “Harriet.” The directing category saw Sam Mendes for his war film “1917” and Bong Joon Ho for his foreign language film “Parasite,” but no female director was nominated this year.

 Director Greta Gerwig was the last female to be nominated in 2018. Before her was Kathryn Bigelow, which was back in 2009 — and she remains the only female director to win. Gerwig was up again this year with “Little Women,” which secured a Best Picture nomination but not director.

 Some audiences online pointed to films like “The Farewell,” “Booksmart,” or “Hustlers;” all of which have female directors.

 Villalobos was glad to see Mendes and Banderas nominated and “Parasite” receiving multiple nominations, “But [I’m] disappointed that so few people of color as a whole were nominated this year.”

 “Parasite,” which managed to get a Best Picture nomination, got nothing in any of the acting categories. There was a campaign for actresses Jennifer Lopez and Awkwafina, but both received no nominations.

The Academy Awards has made major changes to gain viewership in recent years like shortening the length of the show, but the biggest case could be people just aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the films nominated.

The Academy Awards will be televised on Sunday Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. on ABC.