#OscarsSoWhite and How a Bad Headline Can Undermine an Important Argument

Reflecting on our recent post about the Oscars and diversity in Hollywood.

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Complex Original

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Yesterday Complex published an essay entitled “No POC Deserved to Be Nominated for an Oscar This Year (But That’s Not the Point).” That’s a tone deaf headline, and it was a poor choice. There is a history of white critics being dismissive of the work of filmmakers of color. In an effort to be plainspoken and underscore a larger point, our writer gave the impression of doing precisely that.

You can argue with Andrew’s analysis of this year’s Oscar-worthy performances. Some of us certainly do. In a staff that is as large and, yes, diverse as ours, there are bound to be differences of opinion. While we are ultimately responsible for every word that appears in our magazine and on our site, we are also committed to thoughtful and considered intellectual debate, and to giving our staff and writers the freedom to express their opinions.

What seems inarguable, at least to many of us, and the larger point of Andrew’s piece is this: Hollywood does a terrible job of telling the full breadth of stories of people of color. It does an even worse job of hiring artists of color to tell not only those stories but other stories as well. And it does an even worse job of putting people of color (and women) in the executive positions that determine what projects get made.

#OscarsSoWhite is merely one symptom of a much larger, more pernicious disease. According to the Director’s Guild of America, 82% of the 376 movies made in 2013 and 2014 were directed by white males; 11% were made by male minorities and just 1.3% of those films were directed by minority women. This year there were more major Hollywood movies made about the voices inside an 11-year-old girl’s head (one) than there were about the stories of Latinas and Asian women combined (zero). If the body of work produced by artists of color that is considered for big-name honors is so limited to begin with, the awards game is rigged from the start.

Put another way: That the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has a history of not acknowledging the work of artists of color in their annual awards is a problem that garners our attention once a year. That Hollywood executives do not give enough artists of color access to the levers of power to tell the full array of their stories is an outrage, and we ought to be talking about it all the time.

Our bad headline served to undermine our larger point, and for that we are regretful. But we'll continue to push this conversation.

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