The Oscar Buzz: #OscarsSoWhite


the oscars

Eliana Saidel

the oscars
For movie fans, the Oscars is one of the biggest events of the year! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Every January, actors, filmmakers, and avid movie lovers everywhere turn their attention to the Academy Awards nominations. The Oscars, an annual event celebrating and recognizing the best of the past year’s movies, were broadcast around the world on Sunday, Feb. 28. Hosted by Chris Rock, this year’s Oscars are gained publicity by the day. The nominations were out, and a wide variety of categories were being voted upon by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The nominations have ignited debates and sparked interest across the country.

This season’s nominations bring up some questions about race in the movie industry. Every single nominee in the top four categories (best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress) is white, prompting the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to resurface on the Internet. Additionally, according to The Hollywood Reporter, an online news source, The Academy received criticism for having few women and minorities in its voting body. Chris Rock is still hosting the ceremonies, but he has been prompted to withdraw and join celebrities such as Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Spike Lee in their Oscar boycott.

#OscarsSoWhite was conceived by April Reign, a lawyer who left her practice to speak out about racial inequality, politics, and culture. Reign created this hashtag last year, when there were only white nominees. She is also the managing editor of, a website that highlights the success of African Americans on the “Great White Way,” more commonly known as Broadway. Reign revealed her disappointment in the Oscar nominations, in the Academy, and with Hollywood in general. Reign endorses Smith’s and Lee’s boycotts, and she has been urging others to do the same. Reign herself will not attend, and she will be participating in a virtual counter-program, similar to the one she held last year. Her 2015 counter-program consisted of live tweeting Will Smith’s movie Coming to America, and we can expect something similar for 2016.

The president of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, issued a statement on January 19 that said how she was heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” and that it is “time for big changes.” The Los Angeles Times covered the emergency meeting held by The Academy, in which it approved some new rules pertaining to membership. All of these new policies are  part of an effort to double the number of minorities and women in the Academy, although none of the rules will apply to this year’s Oscars.

Chris Rock is still the emcee of the ceremonies, despite being pressured to back out. He has not directly responded to those suggestions, but in an interview with Variety Magazine, Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin stated that Rock told him he was “throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.” Rock is going to address #OscarsSoWhite at the event, and the Academy “is ready for that,” Hudlin added. “They’re excited about him doing that.”  

No one can say what the future has in store for the Oscars, or for the Academy’s progression towards racial equality. All anyone can do is hope that the ones who can make the changes that are necessary make them, and that in the end, the movie industry remains a source of joy and happiness for all its viewers, rather than a source of anger and inequality.