Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Diversity should not play a role in Oscar nomination

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Diversity has become a hot topic since the discussions of affirmative action, but has it gone too far? Recently, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, as well as other celebrities of color, decided to boycott the Oscars due to the lack of diversity. In response, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will focus on doubling the number of women and minority nominees by year 2020. The Oscars should be more of a place to honor one’s achievements, and less of a place to purposely place actors into groups in the name of diversity.

Everybody’s chances for Oscars nominations are equal. Actors and actresses, white or non-white, just need to star in a movie that is 40 minutes or longer that premieres at a movie theater. Notice that there is no racial requirement or quota because the Oscars does not care about race. The awards are colorblind, showing that the Oscars have always been about one’s achievement.

Giving out nominations and awards to satisfy some sort of a racial quota is the most patronizing act the Oscars could ever do. It would not be fair to actors of color who really do deserve to get nominated and awarded for their achievements. One such example would be Lupita Nyong’o, who starred as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. She displayed exceptional acting in her role. It would not be fair for her if other colored actors who were nominated, but did not do as well of a job as she did. Obviously, acting well is not an easy feat, so the Oscars would definitely look at every eligible actor and actress with scrutiny.

Being born Caucasian does not increase one’s chances of becoming a talented actor and being born as an ethnic minority does not doom one to become a terrible actor. Not to mention that not every talented actor will be guaranteed a nomination for the Oscars, since not everybody is equally talented. I am sure that Smith and Lee are talented actors, but it does not mean that they are entitled for an Oscar nomination. They may have acted well, but not well enough, and that is what competition is all about. The Oscar award is not an award just for acting, but it is also an award to those with exceptional talent in the roles an actor is portraying.

“When we worry about a ‘lack of diversity’ in awards, we might as well give out ‘participant’ trophies to all,” Twitter username @yoktomsquegee tweeted.

Adding diversity in the process of nominating actors for the Oscars undermines the achievements of other qualified nominees. Smith and Lee need to grow up about the lack of diversity, because that is not how the real world works. No one will care too much about diversity if it means sacrificing quality.


by Anthony Yang

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