Sunday, February 26, 2012

Breaking Up With Oscar

It makes me sad, because I am a huge fan of the art of movie-making, but the more I have found out about the Academy and the whole Oscar process the more offended I get.  I love the idea of having an Academy rewarding the best at the art of making movies, but I just don't think this Academy is doing a good enough job of it for me to care what they think the best movies are.

I've been looking into how it all works (which is often a bad idea, right?) and it turns out a movie making person can become a candidate for membership by being nominated for an Oscar, by applying and being recommended by two members, or by being endorsed by the membership committee or academy staff. Then the membership committee votes on who should receive an invitation to join.  A few years ago the Academy began publishing a list of invitees, although they have kept the membership list a secret.

Last year, the invitees were 90% white and 70% male.  WTF, right?  Just to put that in perspective, according to the US Census, 72% of the American population is white, and 12% is black, and exactly 50% female.

The L.A. Times did an investigation of the "secret" membership list of voting members of the Academy. They confirmed the identity of 5,100 members, which is 81% of the 5,765 total number of active members.  Of that 81%, they found that 94% are white, and 77% are male.  Of that 6% of non-white members, 2% are black.  Only 14% of Oscar voters are younger than 50.

This year, ALL of the nominated directors are white men, and ALL of the 21 producers of the best picture nominees are white.

In the 84-year history of the Oscars, only four women have been nominated for best director, and only Kathryn Bigelow has won (for the Hurt Locker).

That's a lot of numbers and percentages that all boil down to one truth:  The Academy is filled with old white men.  And it looks like they aim to keep it that way.

So I am officially breaking up with Oscar.  I'm not watching, and I don't care who those old white guys pick as winners.  I am still excited about seeing new movies and seeking out wonderful artistic gems, but I'll rely on my friends and my own instinct to find them.

I got my info here:
L.A. Times study of Oscar voters

Blog article on Indiewire