Editorial: #OscarsSoWhite But Hollywood is Changing

 

For the second consecutive year, the Academy Awards failed to nominate a single person of color in any of the four acting categories. People took to Twitter using the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to take the Academy to task.

 

Not only are most nominees white, but also 94 percent of the people who vote in the Academy Awards are Caucasian. This could explain how only 35 Oscars have been awarded to black talent in the industry’s 87 years of award shows.

 

While the whitewashing of the Oscars may have satisfied viewers of years past, the recent numbers show that the Academy Awards aren’t doing as well as they used to.

 

In 2015, the awards show averaged 36.6 million viewers and a 10.8 rating in adults 18-49 — declines of 16 percent and 18 percent respectively from last year (43.7 million and 13.1). According to the ratings system, that’s the lowest total-viewer count in six years.

 

While the ratings for the SAG Awards have not been released, the organization is receiving a lot of praise for including a diverse crew of nominees and winners for 2016.

 

Out of the 15 categories in the awards show, six awards were given to people of color or shows that accurately portray of people of color.

 

Idris Elba took home two awards, one for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role and another for outstanding performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries.

 

Elba’s performance in “Beasts of No Nations” was conspicuously absent from the Oscar nominees.

 

The problem extends beyond awards shows. White men, 31 percent of the population, directed 82 percent of films in 2015. The institutions need to change as well.

 

Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have been garnering accolades for their diverse selection of series and the characters within them.

 

These streaming services have gained more popularity over the past few years, running movie rental places out of business and giving cable companies a run for their money because of their convenience and their content.

 

Original shows like the multi-award-winning “Transparent” and “Sense8,” which debuted this year, push Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services into the spotlight — not only for being diverse but realistic. They’ve bankrolled shows created by people of color like Jenji Kohan and Aziz Ansari.

 

The world we live in is more than white. It’s more than black too. It’s a glorious melting pot of colors, genders, orientations and talent. The more those different people are represented in the mainstream entertainment media, the more realistic it is to our world, and the more people it can connect with.

 

The way streaming sites push out content isn’t the only way they become successful. The colorful casts and inspirations behind ethnically diverse shows appeal to a wider audience.

 

Diversity in entertainment isn’t a trend that’s going away; the Oscars need to recognize that.

 

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the adviser does not have final approval.

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