Diversity Above Achievement: Affirmative Action Comes to the Academy Awards

Academy-Awards-Board-Changes-400x267

I can do more than anyone suspects. I pride myself on my versatility. It took 32 years of difficult parts, second leads, villains and juveniles. The Oscar changed the quality of the roles I was being offered. – Louis Gossett, Jr.

Affirmative action  sprang out of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. It was intended to provide equal opportunities for members of minority groups and women in education and employment.

In 1961, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the first to use the term “affirmative action” in an Executive Order which forced government contractors to take “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” That Executive Order also established the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, now known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

An institution or organization engages in Affirmative Action when it attempts to improve opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society by establishing a “quota system” to make up for perceived “past transgressions”.

These policies usually involve employment and education. In institutions of higher education, affirmative action involves admission policies that seek to provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, such as women and minorities, at times, skipping over a more qualified candidate, in order to promote “Diversity”.

Needless to say, questions concerning the constitutionality of Affirmative Action has made the topic one of heated debate.

Affirmative action policies initially focused on improving opportunities for African Americans in employment and education.

In the past several years, several states have discontinued their Affirmative Action Policies because Affirmative Action has become outdated, and causes a form of reverse discrimination by favoring one group over another, based on racial preference rather than academic or business achievement. Additionally, there is a concern that minority groups may be stigmatized and treated differently by peers and professors who may believe that the success of minority groups in higher education institutions is unearned.

Now, just as “Mr. Smith Came to Washington”, Affirmative Action is coming to Hollywood.

The Academy Awards or “Oscar” Awards is the paramount awards ceremony originating out of Hollywood, which is held on an annual basis. Over the years, it has become a mega-event, with everyone associated, directly or indirectly, with Hollywood eagerly awaiting for the handing out of the golden statues.

The popularity of the Academy Awards has increased as the years have passed.

The awards were the brainchild of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), formed in 1927. The AMPAS was created through collaborative effort of 36 most prominent individuals, who worked within the motion picture industry.

Film actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was chosen as the first president of the Academy. The awards were established to honor the talented artists of the Motion Picture Industry. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It was a very private affair, with only two hundred seventy people as guests. The awards were given in the banquet, set up at the hotel’s Blossom Room. The tickets for the guest tickets cost $5.

The first Oscar Ceremony consisted of the handing out of awards in 12 categories and two special honors.

The awards were meant to honor people responsible for cinematic achievements in 1927 and 1928. There was a very little element of surprise at the first Oscar Awards ceremony, as the names of the winners had been declared three months in advance. The entire affair was a lengthy one, filled with speeches. However, Douglas Fairbanks, the Academy President, moved things along as best he could, handing out the golden statues to the winners like a modern-day McDonalds Employee at the Drive-Thru Window.

Yes, boys and girls, once upon a time the Academy Awards celebrated individual achievement in the field of Professional Cinema.

That was then. This is now.

The New York Times reports that

LOS ANGELES — Confronting a fierce protest over a second straight year of all-white Oscar acting nominations, theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Friday that it would makeradical changes to its voting requirements, recruiting process and governing structure, with an aim toward increasing the diversity of its membership.

The changes were approved at an unusual special meeting of the group’s 51-member governing board Thursday night. The session ended with a unanimous vote to endorse the new processes, but action on possible changes to Oscar balloting was deferred for later consideration. The board said its goal was to double the number of female and minority members by 2020.

“The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” the academy’s president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, said in a statement. Ms. Isaacs referred to an often-repeated complaint that the academy, in its lack of diversity, reflects the demographics of a film industry that for years has been primarily white and male.

The most striking of the changes is a requirement that the voting status of both new and current members be reviewed every 10 years.

I wonder what the swashbuckling man’s man, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., would have thought about The bunch of no-talent crybabies who have politicized the award show that he worked so had to get off the ground?

He would probably echo the sentiments expressed by Veteran Actor and True Professional, Michael Caine.

Breitbart.com reports that

Two-time Oscar-winning actor Michael Caine has weighed in on the Oscars diversity controversy, saying in a recent interview that while he personally believes that one black actor in particular should have been nominated at this year’s ceremony, “you can’t vote for an actor because he’s black.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come under fire for nominating exclusively white actors in top acting categories at this year’s Oscars, marking a repeat of last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Filmmakers Spike Lee and Michael Moore and actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have vowed not to attend the February 28 ceremony in protest, while others have simply spoken out to denounce the Academy for the lack of diversity in its nominating process.

But in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Nick Robinson, Caine said that the quality of a performance, rather than the color of an actors’ skin, is paramount when considering Oscar nominations.

“There’s loads of black actors,” the 82-year-old Youth star said. “You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.’ You have to give a good performance.”

Caine, who has been nominated six times for Oscars and won twice, said that he thought Idris Elba would be nominated for his role as the sadistic Commandant in the Netflix war drama Beasts of No Nation. When Robinson pointed out that Elba wasn’t nominated this year, Caine demurred.

“Well, look at me,” Caine said. “I won the [European Film Award] for best actor, and I got nominated for nothing else.” Caine’s film Youth was nominated for just one Oscar, for Best Original Song.

Caine said the best advice he could give to minority actors is to “be patient.”

“Of course it will come,” he said. “It took me years to get an Oscar.”

Since the Academy announced its nominations last week, a slew of actors, actresses and producers have spoken out to blast the awards show for its lack of diversity, including David Oyelowo, George Clooney, Lupita Nyong’o, Dustin Hoffman and Mark Ruffalo. Straight Outta Compton executive producer Will Packer has called the lack of nominations for people of color a “complete embarrassment,” while the Rev. Al Sharpton has called for Americans nationwide to “tune out” of the broadcast in protest.

However, some have defended the Academy in the wake of the media firestorm.

In an interview with Variety, Boyz ‘N The Hood director John Singleton said that “there are only so many slots” for nominations, and those nominations will go to those films and performances that the Academy feels should be recognized. Singleton, who became the first African-American to earn a Best Director nomination for the 1991 film, said that the Academy’s nominating process is “almost like the lottery.”

“It’s like every year people complain,” the director said. “People even complain even when we have a lot of nominations. It is what is is. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You never know – it’s the luck of the draw for you. To me, I’m not surprised. I’m not disappointed either, as much as other people are disappointed. There’s a whole elevation of work that happens.”

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter on Friday, Oscar-winning Schindler’s List producer Gerald Molen also defended the Academy and called the growing boycott movement against the Oscars “ridiculous.” Molen said it would be tough to believe that Academy members are not voting for minority actors because of their skin color.

“In a liberal town like Hollywood, that makes about as much sense as saying all members of the Academy vote Republican,” he joked.

Back in 2010, Dan Gainor, in an op ed for foxnews.com, observed that

Hollywood can’t have a big night any more without pushing the Left Coast agenda. It isn’t always big name awardees that reflect a political view. The anti-God, anti-Christian “Golden Compass” took home a Visual Effects Oscar in 2008. The Tommy Lee Jones anti-Iraq War movie “In the Valley of Elah” didn’t even win, but it was honored just by being there. In 2003, many in the audience even gave a standing ovation when child rapist Roman Polanski won Best Director for “The Pianist.”

Sometimes, good movies win. The pro-life “Juno” won and even one of the pro-Christian Narnia movies got an Oscar for make-up. But those are the exceptions that prove the rule. And on Oscar night, the Hollywood left most certainly rules.

As always, the Academy will claim it’s giving us a feast of film, only it isn’t. It’s not even baloney. It’s just the rest of the bull.

So is Modern American Liberals’ battle cry of “Diversity!”

If they are truly “Champions of Diversity”, why are the Liberal Democrat Party’s leading Potential Presidential Candidates both old white folks from the Northeast?

Liberals have been acting for years as if they cherish Diversity for Diversity ‘ s sake.

Perhaps they all deserve an Oscar Statue, too.

Until He Comes,

KJ

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