The Oscars have just announced major changes in regards to their diversity requirements and the internet has a lot to say.
What Was Announced?
When it comes to Oscar nominations and eligibility, the award show has been targeted in the past for not focusing on diversity, inclusion and representation. But things are on their way towards some sort of change.
Change starts now. We've announced new representation and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility, beginning with the 96th #Oscars. Read more here: https://t.co/qdxtlZIVKb pic.twitter.com/hR6c2jb5LM
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) September 9, 2020
Beginning in 2024, inclusion will be a requirement to be considered for Best Picture. This decision comes five years after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trended on Twitter and caused major controversy. The Academy announced on Tuesday that the Best Picture nominations will have to meet a certain criteria in order to be considered.
Don’t believe any hot-take that calls this affirmative action. These rules are such a LOW BAR if a film hasn’t met them it is doing nothing to represent this country and absolutely should not be Oscar-eligible. #OscarsSoWhite will be for the foreseeable future. https://t.co/7mFLOqWZ8J
— AJ Christian (@drajchristian) September 9, 2020
What Social Media Users Had To Say…
While many questioned this decision, their curiosity was met with an answer. The organization explained in a statement that the goal of this verdict is to “encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.”
Social media users and public figures have already begun to share their opinion and it’s safe to say that not everyone is happy about this concept. And not for the reasons that many are expecting.
#Oscars hoping that playing the race and gender cards will make people want to watch rich Hollywood types give each other awards for movies no one's actually watched. When Marvel wins an Oscar, call me. Otherwise, you still suck.#WednesdayWisdom#truthhttps://t.co/PsQfFnevOi
— Minerva Neryse (@minervaneryse) September 9, 2020
Celebrities Speak Out
Kirstie Alley slammed the decision by tweeting: “This is a disgrace to artists everywhere…can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f*cking paintings. You people have lost your minds.”
She continued to explain that diversity and inclusion should be taught to children and therefore simply become second nature. The fact that this type of representation is now being “forced” or necessary has been seen as unnatural by countless people, including Alley.
Diversity and inclusion should be taught, taught so well and so naturally and genuinely that it becomes second nature to our children.
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 9, 2020
Others, on the other hand, are claiming that Alley has missed the point and purpose of these new requirements.
She clearly doesn’t get it… the academy isn’t really forcing anyone to DO Anything. She’s saying this like people are OWED an Oscar nomination. You can still make your own art, you just don’t meet criteria for a certain award so stfu. https://t.co/RTejYFkX2i
— Julian Bass (@thejulianbass) September 9, 2020
All in all, it seems as though the internet is split. Some made comments such as “positive discrimination is still discrimination” will others celebrated the idea that the Oscars are finally moving in the right direction.
People criticising the Oscars new inclusion/diversity rules because it destroys "the freedom of an artist".
Please. Stop it. pic.twitter.com/4elFfD9P8d
— Jo Ferreira #BlackLivesMatter (@joheartsart) September 9, 2020
Many are making the point that it feels strange to control art and indirectly make creators meet a certain criteria. In fact, it’s already been announced that films must meet at least two of four benchmarks. If they do not, that particular film is simply ineligible for Best Picture.
This is stupid and filled with hypocrisy. So, hiring diverse actors is not for their talent and acting but just to get nominated and maybe win an Oscar. Instead of actually doing sth about racism, they did this. https://t.co/2zFqVtROzh
— #D10S🎗️ (@_ItsKarim) September 9, 2020
CNN explains that the criteria includes “featuring actors from underrepresented groups in significant roles or accounting for at least 30% of the cast; similar criteria in terms of those working on the film behind the scenes; a significant commitment to paid apprenticeships, internships and career development; and significant representation among the teams devoted to marketing, publicity and distribution.”
Many social media users are now referring to Best Picture as the “Diversity & Inclusion Award” and similar variations of the sort. Others are calling this particular decision a form of censorship and as a result, have vowed to not tune in to the show in the future.
The Oscars have announced diversity standards for their Best Picture award. It’s no longer about the talent in the Best Picture, but the Most Woke picture.
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) September 9, 2020
People of color have come forward and openly expressed their concern with this decision.
This is ridiculous. There should not be ANY standards. As a latino, I do not like this pityness.
— Adam Dynamite 🇺🇸 (@BrewCity1987) September 9, 2020
I'm a middle eastern bi woman and I'm saying this is ridiculous.
we want representation not because they HAVE TO , but 'cuz diversity is normal and realistic . Instead of this they just should not steal awards from good movies to other white ones.
— mythical (@queenNnre) September 9, 2020
Within hours of this big announcement, the inclusivity requirements for Best Picture has become a political conflict. Fights have broken out across the internet and many are beginning to choose sides. And despite the mixed reactions, it does not seem as though the Academy is going to change their minds about this.
With many deciding that they would no longer be tuning in to the Oscars awhile ago, this decision is no longer important or relevant news to them anyway. And for those boycotting the show, their reasons that this news is just another ridiculous aspect of it continue to be shared. For example, another major point that has been commented on is the fact that the awards are “rigged” anyway.
This whole Oscar thing is extra stupid because they were rigged anyway. They could have just pretended to select a "diverse" film without all the ridiculous rules on submittals 🙄
— Joan d'Arc (@Born4ThisMoment) September 9, 2020
The Oscars Drama Continues…
Is this criteria going to evoke change for the right reasons? The answer to that question is not only incredibly difficult to answer, but also quite controversial.
It’s important to note that this change will not come all at once. These rules will be put in place gradually over the next four years. However, by 2024, the criteria will be required.
There are predictable comments regarding this announcement while others are making some convincing arguments. This seems as though it will be an ongoing conversation on social media.
The Oscars will become meaningless.
It won't take long before nobody even wants one.
Audiences will decline, as an Oscar will be taken by many as a warning of movies NOT to bother to watch.
— Godnose (@Godnose) September 9, 2020
More Change is Needed
Many industries and franchises, such as Bachelor Nation, have made a point to become more diverse this year following the despicable acts of racial injustice we have all seen. However, many think it’s just a little too late. All of these changes have been labeled by social media users as “forced” and “disingenuous” despite what any executives say or how they try to defend their decisions.
Over the years, the Oscars have lost a significant amount of their audience for a variety of reasons. And despite their apparent progress, it seems as though The Academy has some more work to do. In regards to their most recent diversity requirements, it’s unclear if this change will ultimately bring some of those viewers back or simply continue to push them away. Only time will tell.
Will you be watching the Oscars following this announcement?
Featured image by Jakob Owens and Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash.