Pop Culture & Entertainment: Mandatory Diversity By Exclusion for the Oscars

An Op-Ed by Quinn Larkin '22

Have you ever thought the Oscars didn’t have enough women, non-white and disabled people? Have you ever thought that Hollywood didn’t put enough politics into their movies, and didn’t have enough of a pro-minority bias? No? Me neither. Contrarily though, they have added “representation and inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility”. These new standards are comparable to the BAFTA awards, which in England require overrepresentation of LGBT, disabled, 50/50 gender balances and storylines that center on ‘underrepresented’ groups.

“The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off-screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience”*, says the oscars.org. Justifications by President Dave Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson include “The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”* Basically, to include more types of people in movies will be required, despite percentages of the United States population still being majority white, at least the adult population. I fear that some of these disingenuous standards will affect smaller B-movies and indie films the most, being unable to hire 50/50 and their mandatory minorities without the quality of the film and creative vision suffering.

The standards work as follows: There will be four sections in which inclusion is mandatory, including on-screen representation, creative vision, industry opportunities, and audience development. Only two of these categories will be needed, and each is made up of several requirements. For the first, the lead actors, supporting cast, and storyline must have certain groups, and the second category says the department heads and crew must be made up of certain groups. The third category will need internships and training opportunities for certain groups, and lastly, representation in marketing must fill diversity quotas. All of these requirements are to hopefully artificially create a downward curve of the number of white people, men, straight and non-disabled people in the workplace. These changes will be required in two years, giving some time for corporations and companies to get used to the new rules and regulations, taking effect by the 96th Oscars. 

What if you were a small crew, doing minimal marketing by yourself, having minimal interns, and directing the movie with your friends and family? Are you and your friends white, straight and male is the next question you ask because if you are, you won’t be eligible for awards. Eligibility like this will disqualify movies of old and smaller films, having race and gender being one of the focal points in thinking about a movie.

With all of this said, the future of Hollywood will look much different from America as a whole. Hyperfixation on arbitrary factors is becoming normative, being seemingly an obsession of some. We all know Hollywood doesn’t care about people. They care about making money and influencing people so their lives revolve around celebrities' lives. Ask yourself, then, questions like why are we seeing so much fixation on non-normative people? Knowing what kind of people are in Hollywood, what is their goal?

*https://www.oscars.org/news/academy-establishes-representation-and-inclusion-standards-oscarsr-eligibility