Madeline Crocenzi


Photo taken from Loren Javier on

The 88th Academy Awards or “Oscars” air tonight in the midst of an ongoing controversy over the lack of diversity in film.

This is the second year in a row in which there are no actors of color nominated for an award. Certain films nominated featuring a cast of diverse races, such as “Straight Outta Compton” for Best Screenplay, “What Happened, Miss Simone” for Best Documentary and “Creed” for Best Supporting Actor, were only recognized for their white contributors.

After the nominations had been announced on January 14, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on Twitter. There have also been calls for boycotts from celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, after Will Smith was not nominated for his role in “Concussion,” as well as from director Spike Lee.

The President of the Academy, Cheryl Boone-Isaac, is herself a black woman and has been quick to acknowledge the lack of diversity in film. However, many blame the white male majority of Hollywood executives for their casting choices. In a Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA, 94 percent of the CEOs and/or chairs and 92 percent of the film industry’s senior management were white in 2013.

Alicia Sims, co-president of the Messiah Film Society says the lack of diversity in Hollywood films is noticeable.

“Creating more diversity in film involves a lot of teamwork. People of color who want to tell their stories (directors and/or screenwriters) need people to support them and help fund their projects. When Hollywood begins to tell everyone’s stories instead of the ones white men know how to tell, casting will become more diverse,” says Sims.

This year’s Academy Awards host Chris Rock has been relatively silent on the controversy so far. Last year he wrote an op-ed on race issues in Hollywood for the Hollywood Reporter, in which he called Hollywood a “white industry.”

However the Oscars are still garnering attention for other reasons besides the racial debate. Many are questioning whether this will finally be the year Leonardo DiCaprio wins big for “The Revenant,” and still others are excited about performances by Sam Smith, Dave Grohl, The Weekend and Lady Gaga.

For students interested in watching the Oscars, the Messiah Film Society is hosting a free viewing party in Parmer Cinema. The red carpet starts at 7 p.m. and the Awards begin at 8:30 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend wearing their best red carpet attire.

Sims says students should come to the viewing party to experience a fun atmosphere and a potential learning experience. “Especially since this year’s Academy Awards show will likely address the topic of diversity, it’s a prime opportunity for students to stay knowledgeable about what’s happening in our nation. The main goal of the party is to have fun, but it can also be a space for necessary discussion about the lack of diversity in the film industry.”

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