The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the grand organisation that stages the Oscars each year – has made a very obvious push for diversity this week.
The Academy, which consists of thousands of voters who in effect shape each year’s Oscar nominees lists, has invited a record 683 new members: 46 per cent of these being female and 41 per cent being people of different colour or creed to the usual Caucasian.
If a majority of these individuals elect to join, it will begin to shift the demographic makeup of the Academy, which has been criticised in the past for being too male-centric, too old-fashioned and, yes, too white.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Academy’s membership was 75 percent male before this year’s new members were recruited, and could move to 73 percent male once they join. Similarly, the Academy was 92 percent white before the latest list and could become 89 percent white in its wake.”
Obviously this change of tact is due to the fuss caused earlier this year, and in 2015, when a clear lack of nominees of minorities led to the protest hashtag #OscarsSoWhite going viral.
Of the new invitees, 283 are international members, representing 59 countries. These include actors John Boyega, Greta Gerwig, Emma Watson, America Ferrera, Idris Elba and Alicia Vikander, and foreign directors Laszlo Nemes, Cari Fukunaga and Abbas Kiarostami.
Musicians-come-actors, too, have been extended invitations to become Academy members, including Mary J. Blige, Will.i.am and Patti LuPone.
The huge jump in the number of invitees already has punters debating if all the names on the list deserve to be included, some even bandying the word ‘tokenist’ about.
We say, even if in the name of tokenism, it’s better to have a more diverse pool of voters having their influence on future Academy recognistion, than leaving it to the old boardroom of fuddy-duddies. Antonino Tati