Ever since the announcement of the 2016 Oscars, the topic of Diversity in Hollywood, and who may be getting excluded, has been a popular topic among news outlets. For the second year in a row, no actors or actresses of color were nominated in any of the major acting categories – instead there were 20 white actors and actresses nominated. April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and it started trending yet again this year, causing a lot of controversy around Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The honorary organization recently decided to change some of their voting rules and policies. The hope is that this will begin paving the way for a more diverse, inclusive body of Academy voters.
There are plenty of people in Hollywood, both actors and filmmakers, who spoke out about the controversy, with plenty of voices calling for change. George Clooney, David Oyelowo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Reese Witherspoon, Lupita Nyong’o and more have expressed their disappointment in this year’s Oscar nominations and the state of diversity in our modern society in general. There have been others who have talked about the Oscars controversy and how they feel about it, but did not handle their comments with quite as much tact as the ones above.
Unfortunately, for some celebrities, they have received negative backlash for their comments. Mainly because a lot of them have been absurd, outrageous and often just flat out incorrect. They put their foot in their mouths and only a few of them were able to pull it out and apologize afterwards, while some of the actors and actresses continue thinking their statements actually made sense. One thing is for sure though, Hollywood does not forget. So you better believe that these celebrities are going to think twice before saying something like that again!
10. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart recently made some comments regarding diversity that received some negative attention, but she claims they were taken out of context. “Instead of sitting around and complaining about that, do something,” Stewart said, speaking with Variety. It would look as if she is simply telling those who wish to see more diversity in Hollywood to simply “do something” about it, as if they’ve never thought to try that. However, Variety clarified that Kristen was talking about sexism and women having difficulty finding roles in Hollywood. But to be honest, that doesn’t really make her dismissive comments any better. You’ll have to do better than suggesting “make it happen yourself,” to those who claim it is too hard to make it. The issue is much more complicated than that – a fact that she points out later in her comments, rendering her whole statement useless and contradictory. I suppose we couldn’t all star in Twilight.
9. Marlon Wayans
50 Shades of Black is the latest “spoof movie” from Marlon Wayans. The actor was recently on HuffPost Live to talk about the film when the recent Oscars controversy got brought up. While he claims he was trying to be positive and hopeful about artists of color in the industry, his comments really suggest otherwise. “All of these obstacles are just going to make us more creative, just going to make us greater.” Marlon seems to be suggesting that if people of color just do better and make great work, we’ll finally get the recognition – as if they haven’t been doing that already. At the very least he notices the role positive impact that these obstacles may cause black individuals to face.
8. Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott is certainly a fantastic director, but he definitely needs a lesson or two on the importance of diversity as well as political correctness. His film Exodus: Gods and Kings was an Egyptian period piece, with no actors of color in the lead roles. People tend to forget that Egypt is in Africa. But Scott defended his casting choices, claiming “I can’t mount a film of this budget and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.” Scott may, sadly, be correct, but he never goes on to point out how terrible that reality is. The issue is just dismissed and swept under the rug, which doesn’t help solve the problem at all.
7. Julie Delpy
While attending the Sundance Film Festival, Julie Delpy talked about the “Academy being very white male,” and got criticism for those remarks. Which prompted her to say “It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African-American, because people don’t bash them afterward.” Julie made two mistakes here. One, she separated women and African-Americans, as if there aren’t African-American women in the world. Two, she honestly believes that when black people in the industry speak on any sort of discrimination, there is no backlash. Julie later issued an apology for her statements clarifying that she was simply trying to talk about inequality.
6. Michael Caine
Legendary British actor Michael Caine says that “You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black.” It seems as if Mr. Caine is completely missing the point of the discussion entirely. “Be patient,” he said. “Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar.” And he continues to radically miss the point of why the topic was even brought up to begin with. Michael is someone who thinks the Awards all come down to “merit” and those who deserve recognition will get it, while some Academy members have blatantly admitted to not watching films that they vote for, so that really makes you wonder how much of who wins really is about talent.
5. Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez admits that she put her foot in her mouth when she said “Stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own.” Later, she clarified her statements, saying “I think that there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology.” But to be honest, that isn’t much better. It’s not that easy to just create your own mythology for a film franchise that happens to star minorities – if it was that simple, everyone would be doing it. With Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa playing Aquaman and Michael B. Jordan playing the Human Torch, diversity is starting to be seen in Hollywood. Rodriguez should remember that before she offers her blunt take on the topic.
4. Matt Damon
Last year Matt Damon made headlines when he was in somewhat of an argument with producer Effie Brown on the Season 4 premiere episode of the HBO reality show Project Greenlight. The reality show awards a $3 million film budget to aspiring filmmakers who are all competing to direct the same script, and Brown was rooting for a directorial team consisting of a white woman and Asian man. Damon said “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.” While he has a point, when there are opportunities like this, it becomes about more than just the show – no matter how much you want to ignore that fact.
3. Charlotte Rampling
Charlotte Rampling really said some outrageous nonsense when she insisted that the Academy Awards is “racist against whites.” Yes, even though this is the second year in a row with nothing but white actors and actresses nominated, white people are the real victims here. “Why classify people? We live in a time now where everyone is more or less accepted.” It’s not clear what planet Charlotte Rampling is living on, but it sure must be nice there, apparently being blinded by privilege is one of the many advantages. In response to being asked about the black community feeling underrepresented, Rampling replied “no comment.”
2. Gerald Molen
Gerald Molen, producer of Schindler’s List and a voting member of the Academy, is none too pleased with the Oscars backlash. “There is no racism except for those who create an issue. That is the worst kind. Using such an ugly way of complaining.” This follows the same line of logic as insisting that if you merely bring up the topic of racism, you’re being racist. A perfect brick wall built around the issue so that nobody can fix it or destroy it, with Molen calling his co-members “spoiled brats” for “complaining.” The fact that he was a producer on a film like Schindler’s List just adds so much irony to this story.
1. Stacey Dash
Stacey Dash has, by far, issued the most ignorant and outrageous statements regarding the Oscars controversy. Not only does she think the BET Awards and Image Awards should not exist, but she also believes we might as well do away with Black History Month while we’re at it. She also insisted that President Obama gets most of his funding from Hollywood liberals. What Dash fails to realize is that if it weren’t for the NAACP Awards and BET Awards, Image Awards and Black History Month, black people would barely have any representation on television and in general. When there are children’s books with slaves being depicted as happy and cheerful, it hammers home the importance of Black History Month and why it needs to continue.