#OscarsSoWhite: a detailed examination

Georgia Geen


Chris Rock speaks while hosting the 88th Academy Awards. Photo by tvline.com

Not only are the Oscars so white,
but so is all of Hollywood and most of
American media.
For the second year in a row, all
20 nominees for the acting awards
were white–1998 was the last time
this occurred. As was curtly pointed
out by Oscars host Chris Rock, lack of
diversity in Hollywood isn’t a modern
issue: “This is the 88th Academy
Awards. So this whole ‘no black nominees’
thing has happened at least 71
other times,” referencing the subtle
racism of the earlier parts of the 20th
It’s no secret that Hollywood does
a poor job of representing the diversity
that is found in the U.S., although
some small improvements have been
made in recent years. According to
a 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report
by UCLA, minorities are underrepresented
in every role in relation to
movie or T.V. show production. The
film industry fairs slightly better than
television, with whites outnumbering
minorities 2 to 1 in film leads and
film directors and 3 to 1 in film writers.
Whites in television outnumber
minorities 6 to 1 in broadcast scripted
leads and in creators of broadcast
scripted shows.
Considering minorities make up
40 percent of the U.S. population,
there is a proportional gap in minority
representation in Hollywood, even
without considering the whiteness of
awards shows like the Oscars. But
zero minority acting nominations?
That’s unacceptable.
And it’s not that there were a
lack of potential nominees; films like
“Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton”
were seemingly overlooked, receiving
one Oscar nomination apiece,
but neither one was for a black actor.
As a result of the lack of diversity,
a boycott of the event ensued.
Viewings dropped by 8 percent from
last year; whether it was due to the
protests or general lack of interest is
unclear. But outcries from celebrities
and the general public show (as
seen by the Twitter outrage that took
place) that the outdatedness of such
ideals will not bode well for the Oscars
in the future. In the 88 year history
of the event, only 14 black actors
have ever one—other minorities fair
even worse. There have only been
nine Hispanic Oscar winners.
The lack of diversity in Hollywood
is reflective of a bigger issue of institutionalized
racism in the U.S. The
lack of minority acting roles can be
attributed to a lack of opportunities
available for minorities. According to
the aforementioned data report, the
top talent agencies underrepresent
minorities, leading to their lack of
representation in films and shows.
Latinos are even more underrepresented
than blacks, but strides are being
made by popular shows like “Jane
the Virgin,” launching Latino actors
into the mainstream. This shows the
growing importance of this population
and the social and political issues
that they face.
Despite strides forward in acting
diversity, on the corporate level,
“higher up” positions are almost exclusively
white and male. Film studio
heads were 94 percent white and all
male and film studio senior management
was 92 percent white and 83
percent male as of 2015, with other
roles only fairing slightly better.
It is in this area that substantial
changes need to be made. In order
to fix the issue of diversity in Hollywood,
there needs to be adequate minority
representation in all levels of
the industry to fix the current power


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