The question of diversity amongst 2016’s Oscar nominees has truly become Hollywood’s hot-button topic, with the legendary actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood now wading into the controversy.
When approached by TMZ to offer his own take, Eastwood seemed largely unaware of the issue. “I don’t know anything about it,” he stated. “All I know is there’s thousands of people in the Academy, and the majority of them haven’t won Oscars. A lot of people are crying, I guess.”
Eastwood has won four Academy Awards so far, with Best Picture and Best Director wins for both 1993’s Unforgiven and 2005’s Million Dollar Baby. He also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1995.
Sure, Eastwood seems to be speaking merely from a position of total ignorance on the subject; but it’s questionable as to how someone so ingrained within the industry, as both director and actor, could have so little awareness of its diversity problems. Mixed in with controversial statements recently uttered by the likes of Michael Caine and Charlotte Rampling, it’s a bleak reflection of views likely to be all too common amongst Academy members.
Rampling recently labelled the backlash, “racist to white people”. Reflecting on the absence of a single non-white acting nominee she continued, “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”
She’s since then redacted her comments, clarifying; “I regret that my comments could have been misinterpreted. I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration.”
Caine equally dismissed the notion, urging non-white actors to merely “be patient”. “There’s loads of black actors. In the end, you can’t vote for an actor because he’s black,” he’s quoted as stating. “You can’t say, ‘I’m going to vote for him, he’s not very good, but he’s black, I’ll vote for him.”
These are exactly the attitudes the Academy (and industry at large) will be up against in their attempts to improve diversity. The institution recently pledged to double the number of female and minority members, as well as diversifying leadership.
“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” stated Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”