Opinions on this year's (but really, every year) whitewashed Oscars, prompting the reemergence of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, continue to pour in as everyone wants to find out where Hollywood's elite stand on the hot button subject. It's the new trick question akin to asking "female" celebrities if they're feminists. Some have agreed to boycott the big show altogether because of the lack of diversity, others have acknowledged the problem, and then there's the misguided folk who think welcoming diversity means ushering in white genocide (not their exact words.) Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen has a lot to say on the subject he doesn't want to wait "20 years" to be resolved.
McQueen, as The Guardian described him, is the "only black director to have ever won a best picture Oscar," for 2013's 12 Years a Slave. The director likened the lack of diversity to MTV in the 1980s, back when the network actually played music videos albeit segregating them. "Could you imagine now if MTV only showed music videos by a majority of white people, then after 11 o’clock it showed a majority of black people? Could you imagine that happening now? It’s the same situation happening in the movies," said McQueen. He referenced a 1983 clip of David Bowie criticizing MTV for its lack of black artists saying hopefully 20 years from now this controversy will look prehistoric in thinking. But 20 years is too long and this issue has gone long enough for McQueen who said, "Forgive me; I'm hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right."
People of color (which, yes, includes Latinos and Asians) are hardly visible at this year's awards even outside of the Best Acting nominees with exceptions like Oscar-winning Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. That being said McQueen doesn't think its only up to POC to speak out. "You are in it! Are you living in a different world from everyone else? I don't think this is a 'black' issue. I think this is our issue. If people want to categorise [sic] it as a black issue, that's weird. Just like if I was talking about women in film. It's my issue, too. It's our issue. It's about 'we'. W.E; not M.E."
The Academy's decision to integrate more people of color as Academy members isn't the way to go, McQueen says, citing the solution on a smaller level. "One could talk about percentages of certain people who are Academy members and the demographics and so forth, but the real issue is movies being made. Decisions being made by heads of studios, TV companies and cable companies about what is and is not being made. That is the start. That is the root of the problem," said McQueen, who recalled not seeing diversity in the people working on his films Hunger and Shame.
Are you there, Hollywood? Take notes.