Waiting for a change: Students reflect on Oscars’ meagre diversity

With Oscars upcoming, students share concern over legacy of whitewashing

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Anthony Young

AND THE AWARD GOES TO… In recent years, the Oscars has received criticism for lack of diversity. Despite this, viewers this year have noticed a much more inclusive array of name including “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Minari”.

Josephine Mittelberger

Of the 92 years the Oscars have been held, 17 black actors and actresses have won Oscar awards. This is no coincidence, and the Oscars have been riddled with racism since its beginning. Some may argue there has been progress, but most winners played roles tha reinforced stereotypes—overtly violent, domestic help or a slave, drug addict, criminal or single parent. 

“I usually get into the race issues behind award shows, but I have noticed an obvious diversity increase in nominees, with ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, ‘Minari’ and ‘Nomadland’ making great headway for Black and Asian filmmakers and actors,” Francis Hovland, co-founder and president of Film Club, said. “I would say it has definitely gotten better, even if it is marching at the snail’s pace.”

Recently, award shows have tried to fix their issues with racism﹘ switching from only white judges, shying away from nominating only white nominees and increasing representation in general. However, these small steps may be much slower than previously thought. From 1980 to 2015 Oscar winners, white actors won 84% of men categories and white women won 89%. Racial issues have been present in all award shows. Artists such as the Weekend have begun boycotting the Grammy’s and speaking out against the ‘secret committees’ that vote on the predominantly white male winners. A recent example of backlash is when Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga won best pop duo/group over BTS, many claimed the results were racially motivated.

“This year’s Grammy’s Award for dual group deserved to go to BTS,” Rita Zheng, sophomore, said. “The billboard charts showed that they had broken more records than Rain on Me and had gotten more listens on Spotify than Rain on Me. Dynamite was their first English song and that was the only place where Arianna Grande and Lady Gaga had the advantage.”

However, these issues are not as hopeless as one may think. Viewers can make these small steps larger by voicing their opinions and putting their money where it benefits smaller creators of color. 

“The best way to do that is vote with your wallet,” Francis said. “Watch a movie made by someone you want to see on that Oscar stage, and make sure to share how much you loved their work so others can discover it, too. Smaller movies are too often overshadowed and forgotten by the giant blockbusters.”