The Oscars are turnip-white and just as male this year. What’s the deal?

This year is tough for the ol’ Academy Awards. Well, depending on who you talk to, I guess. 

Turns out, you’re talking to us!

No one’s ever claimed that the Oscars are a true creme-de-la-creme of movies made in one year, and many, many people have pointed out that the Oscars–and Hollywood in general–is geared towards white males.

And money. Lots of money. Billions of monies.

The 2015 nominations were announced last week. I know, I know, you haven’t had a chance to see hardly any of the movies listed, even if you’re an avid moviegoer like myself. That’s because movies only open in “limited release” in order to get it out there before Old Man 2014 gives up the ghost and New Baby 2015 crawls out from…his grave? Then the extended release (meaning maybe even movie-backwards cities like ours will get it) just in time for…now! 

That magic time between Oscar nom announcements and the actual awards ceremony (February 22nd at 7:00 PM on ABC!). It’s a time when people who are Generally Into Movies are now aware of films and want to spend money on tickets to them. But the magic, magic time is after the awards themselves. If your film wins, you will have an enormous surge in monies, so it’s best to be in the theaters while people have their wallets out. 

The problem is, by Oscar time, we’ve not seen as many movies as we really should in order to care about who wins. We depend on the awards to tell us what to watch. 

This is stupid.1 And it means the awards no longer have any real value–a circle of monkeys, all grooming each other and stuffing dollars into each other’s monkey-pockets. Did you know that films actually campaign to be nominated and get votes? 

The Academy consists of people in show business, mostly white males. And their audience also consists of mostly white males. The former make money off the latter, and the latter won’t see a thing unless it appeals to them. 

It sounds like I’m being cynical, but there’s an entire world of movies that are only bound by this system in varying degrees. People like Geena Davis and these intrepid souls are working hard to make things a little more even, gender-wise, but there’s still a long way to go before things balance out.

And now it’s 2015, and the nominations have taken one step back. Biopics about men continue to rule (and it’s only white men this year, with one notable exception): The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Selma. Every single Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress nominee is white. Every Best Director nom is a male (that is a marked exclusion for Ava DuVernay, the female director of Selma)–and a film hardly ever wins the big enchilada without a Best Director win.

People are annoyed, which means humanity is possibly worth saving (although you’ll notice the emphasize is on race, not gender). The Academy president basically agrees that it’s a lot of BS, but what she’s saying without saying it is that the pool to pick from is as blindingly white and male-dominated as a new pair of Hanes briefs.

If we want more diversity in films, we have to demand it, all the time. Not just during Oscar season. Go see better films year-round. You don’t have to hate the ones that are white male-centric. That’s pretty much all Hollywood knows. And you don’t have to boycott awards ceremonies–when else do you get a chance to see Jennifer Lawrence in mouthy, glorious action!

But you do need to celebrate the films who treat marginalized groups like real human beings (keep a weather eye out for putting people on pedestals just to alleviate guilt, though). Become more aware, and embrace whatever they call you. If this is what it means to be a snob, that’s fine with me.

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Here’s a handy dandy guide to viewing the Oscar nominations in Richmond, even if it’s just to get you all riled up.

Netflix streaming Amazon Instant HBO Go Netflix disc Redbox Theaters
American Sniper
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls 2/18
Finding Vivian Maier
Foxcatcher 3/3
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
The Judge 2/24
Mr. Turner
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Song of the Sea
Still Alice
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2/18
The Theory of Everything
Two Days, One Night
Whiplash 2/24
Wild Tales

Photo by: existation

  1. Make no mistake. I am stupid. I do this every year. You gotta have SOME direction! 
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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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