The Academy Awards have been notorious for snubbing creators of color to give a platform to white filmmakers and actors. Year after year, the same types of movies that glorify white stories sweep all of the awards. This leaves stories by and about marginalized communities with nothing to show for their efforts. Fortunately, 2021 has brought forth a renewed energy to celebrate people of color’s stories. Audiences saw a much more diverse set of nominees at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. However, it’s likely that this may have been a pandemic fluke. Moving forward, consumers of film must not let the academy fall back into their old habits and instead pressure them to diversify their panel and their preferences.
Unfortunately, people should not be too optimistic about the diversity in this year’s Oscars awards. Over the course of the last few years, the Oscars have been bashed repeatedly over social media for not being diverse enough. This year, they may have taken this into consideration, which could explain the more progressive nominations. However, it’s more likely that this is all simply performative, and with the way cancel culture is, the academy was probably fed up with the berating from fans and decided to be diverse for show. We should expect to see the academy return to their usual way of handing awards to the same white films and actors next year.
It’s likely that the academy, along with other award shows, will take a step back next year from pretending to make change. Given how fast social issues lose their hold on the media, there is no hope. Marginalized stories will fall to the wayside because the academy might feel like they don’t need to be performative anymore.
Hollywood has been struggling under public scrutiny for a long time and will continue to do so beyond the pandemic. But scrutiny may not be enough to ensure that more creators of color are given a proper platform. It’s safe to say that this was a pandemic fluke 一 considering that there were no big-budget, white-directed films available to prioritize first 一 and it will remain this way if people do not continue to put pressure on the academy. If we don’t advocate for these films, the Oscars will only continue to highlight white films. Additionally, long-term change toward diversifying will never be achieved unless we diversify the panel of judges and give recognition for people of color and highlight their stories.
The academy is composed of rich, old white people, and if this isn’t changed, nothing will become more progressive. We will never get fairly judged films if the panel is not diversified. These people don’t have the capability to judge foreign films against Western films because they don’t have the proper knowledge or experience with non-white stories. Judging would be more fair if there were more foreign critics in the industry so that different experiences have more light shed on them. The panel needs to include people of color so that the movies that star diverse peoples are about genuine incidents in their lives, not just trauma porn or white savior films. There are many people within the film community who are not white, and this should be emphasized when it comes to consumers.
The film community needs to continue to advocate for smaller budget films and films made by people of color. It’s time we move away from nominating old war movies that always reappear every year, and this must come from continued public demand for movies highlighting people of color and their exceptional stories. People who consume movies should be more critical of the film industry and expand their horizons beyond just Western films. Instead of placing emphasis on films with all-white casts and white-centered plots, foreign movies must be given a bigger platform. The film community should open its arms to more diverse groups of film watchers.
In addition to broadening the scope of consumers and judges, there must be a continuous need for creators of color behind the scenes. People of color should be encouraged to pursue their passion for the arts, and it would be more encouraging if Hollywood emulated this sentiment in their hiring processes. There must be a greater focus on helping people of color and other minorities get jobs within Hollywood, and the show business community would greatly benefit from this. Nobody knows or understands these stories more than the people that have experienced them, and nobody understands the aesthetics of these cultures more than those who have experience with them. This is why we must continue to uplift more designers, writers and directors of color in addition to actors and actresses.
White people have had a monopoly on award shows and Hollywood for too long. It’s time to diversify the silver screen and give people more opportunities to experience other cultures and their stories. By broadening the scope of film through diversity, audiences can learn something new about different lifestyles and be less ignorant of people and cultures they may otherwise have no experience with. By demanding that the Academy Awards diversify its panel of judges and preferences of film, as well as pressuring consumers to uplift creators of color, we will all be able to enjoy tasteful, fulfilling films.