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As people were trying to make sense of this year's Academy Awards regressing back towards the #OscarsSoWhite 2015 controversy, author and Academy member Stephen King tried to address the ongoing issue earlier this month in a series of tweets.
King claimed that, personally, when he voted for the nominees in the categories of Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay, "the diversity issue . . . did not come up."
King was subsequently criticized by people online. Director Ava DuVernay said the tweet made him come across as "backward and ignorant."
On Monday, The Washington Post published an essay from King where he tried to expand on his tweets. "I stepped over one of those lines recently, by saying something on Twitter that I mistakenly thought was noncontroversial: 'I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,'" he wrote. "The subject was the Academy Awards. I also said, in essence, that those judging creative excellence should be blind to questions of race, gender or sexual orientation."
King emphasized that if people thought he was saying mediums "focusing on diversity and/or inequality cannot be works of creative genius," it was misinterpreted, and used the recent work of one of his critics to prove that line of thinking couldn't "be further from the truth."
"I did not say that was the case today, because nothing could be further from the truth. Nor did I say that films, novels, plays and music focusing on diversity and/or inequality cannot be works of creative genius," King wrote. "They can be, and often are. Ava DuVernay’s 2019 Netflix miniseries, 'When They See Us,' about the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five, is a splendid case in point."
Even though progress has been made over the last few years, King took the opportunity to point out that inclusion among Academy voters continues to be a problem. "This year, women make up 32 percent of voters (up only 1 percent from last year) and minority members equal 16 percent of the total," he wrote. "Not good enough. Not even within shouting distance of good enough."
Despite putting a spotlight on a number of this year's Best Picture nominees, such as The Irishman, Ford v Ferrari, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which he coined as "man-fiction," a term he borrowed from his sons, King is hopeful that things will get better...someday. "We don’t live in that perfect world, and this year’s less-than-diverse Academy Awards nominations once more prove it," he said. "Maybe someday we will. I can dream, can’t I? After all, I make stuff up for a living."