The prodigious Oscar award show was shadowed by a dark cloud of discrimination this year. In the wake of the Oscar So White controversy, many people, film lovers and Keene State College students alike, think that the nominations for this year’s Oscar weren’t diverse enough.
According to online entertainment publication ScreenCrush, only 14 men and women of color have actually received Oscars for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress in the 88-year run of the notorious award show.
In spite of the controversy, ball gowns and tuxedos made an appearance on televisions across the world and definitely on televisions across the KSC campus during the Oscars this past Sunday, Feb. 28.
Patrick Byrne, sophomore and film production major at KSC, said he watches the Oscars every year, and that he was looking forward to watching them this year.
He said the Oscars So White scandal initially came to his attention fairly recently, but has not impacted his decision to watch the Oscars this year.
Byrne said, “I think that it is shameful that prejudice is affecting something as prestigious as the Oscars because it is an event that many people look forward to. It’s really unfortunate that [the Oscars] are being tainted by discrimination.”
That being said, Byrne said he would have liked to see Michael B. Jordan from “Creed” nominated this year.
Josh Lamb, an exchange student from York, England, who studied film at KSC during the Spring 2015 semester, said that he doesn’t normally watch the Oscars, but the controversy this year definitely grabbed his attention overseas.
Lamb said, “I knew about the Oscar So White scandal because the same thing happened last year and it’s more of a problem this year because nothing seems to have been done to solve the problem.”
In writing an opinions piece on the scandal, Lamb made it clear where he stands on the issue.
“I feel like the Oscars should move to the twenty-first century, and it’s about time black and ethnic voices are heard more in Hollywood,” Lamb said.
Lamb continued, “But it’s not all the awards fault; it’s a problem with Hollywood itself and how it operates.”
In his article, Lamb wrote that actors from “Straight Outta Compton,” “Creed” and “Beasts of No Nation” were seemingly robbed of nominations this year.
Lamb said the solution to the inequality in Hollywood is relatively simple: take away the power that the Oscars hold.
“The best thing that can be done is to ignore the Oscars and take them less seriously than we do. We should know that film is more than just Hollywood and we should support independent film more. Maybe then we might see the change we want,” Lamb said.
Roberto Medina, a KSC senior and double major in film and communications, said that he thinks the Oscar So White scandal has less to do with the talent of actors and more to do with society as a whole.
“As far as roles being selected and given to actors, I think that opportunities to play lead roles in movies is all about networking and who you know,” Medina said, “I think favoritism has a lot to do with it.”
That being said, Medina said that he believes that more minorities have already been chosen for lead roles in the past year, and that things are beginning to look up.
Medina said, “As much as our society has already made leaps and bounds overcoming some diversity, there’s still much work to be done.”
Pam Delisme, KSC senior, said that the Oscar So White scandal came to her attention over social media in the recent weeks.
“I think the discrimination at the Oscars made an impact on me because I’m a person of color and I feel as though there needs to be more representation. I think that some of these nominations could have been given to other actors who are of color,” Delisme said.
Delisme continued, “I think that for many Caucasian people it isn’t a big deal because they see themselves in the media all the time, so for other people of a different race to point that out and make statements about it causes some people to be angry or confused as to why people of color are upset about it.”
Delisme said that she had hoped Abraham Attah as the boy in “Beasts of No Nation” would have been nominated for an Oscar this year.
“I won’t lie, I didn’t watch a great deal of new movies last year, but when it comes to Oscars So White, the controversy comes from people of color being tired of not being represented and not getting enough opportunities in Hollywood,” Delisme said.
Delisme continued, “This goes for Black actors, Asian actors, Hispanic/Latino actors and Native American, as well as others. It’s a very hard to thing to explain to people who are not POC [people of color] because it’s a completely different word for them.”
Delisme explained, “If you live a life where your parents don’t have to tell you that you need to work twice as hard to get half of what a white person gets or where you are not discriminated against because of your race, life to a certain degree is easier. It’s easier because of privilege, whether or not it’s acknowledged.”
All in all, Delisme stressed that representation of people of color really matters in modern media.
Delisme offered a solution to the racial controversy. She said, “I think adding more people of color in films is one step, and giving them the credit when it is certainly due.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.