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The Vast Majority of Academy Voters Are Extremely Old & Incredibly White Men
by Jamie Frevele | 4:40 pm, February 20th, 2012
A new study by the LA Times revealed a fact that is usually just a joke made by comedians and angry fans of Drive: the majority of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of white, elderly men, and this is why generally lackluster “Oscar-bait” movies like War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close end up nominated over more edgy fare (like Drive). The Academy says it wants to diversify, and it’s nice of them to notice the need to do that now that everyone expects the Oscars to be 100 percent boring 100 percent of the time.
Top pic also taken from the LA Times story, because it looks like the creepy picture from The Shining, and I dig that.
There are 5,765 members of the Academy who cast votes every year, though that number is always subject to change since we just found out how old some of them are. While some members do openly discuss who they’re voting for, some guard their identities like masked superheroes, not wanting to reveal their highly important status in the entertainment community. (One of my favorite features around any awards time is when Entertainment Weekly asks anonymous members of the academy — identifying them by their profession — whom they’re voting for and why.) But now, while keeping the identities of the members secret, the Academy has revealed some demographics that are very, very interesting, indeed:
Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.
Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.
Well, then. That’s why the list of nominees often reflects what our grandparents like and not necessarily the majority of people who actually go to movies. (Or are they?) But this certainly explains the issue of “perennial favorites” and an occasional lack of an open mind when it comes to nominating well-received movies that might be out of the comfort zone of someone a little more “old-fashioned.” One of the most controversial nominees for Best Picture (among other awards) this year is the 9/11 tearjerker drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It has almost everything an Oscar prescription package needs: sad things, 9/11, sad children, previous Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock experiencing a tragedy, previous Oscar-winner Tom Hanks experiencing a tragedy, and a quirky old person (Best Supporting Actor nominee Max Von Sydow). But as it turns out, it wasn’t that good of a movie. Yet it was still nominated.
Meanwhile, one of the best reviewed films of the year was Drive. It got exactly zero nominations, and the all-around snub got a lot of people talking about how the Academy has gotten so far out of touch with not just the audience now, but also with critics. See also: Shame, and Michael Fassbender‘s role in it, because it is all about people having sexual intercourse, and coming from people who are still judging things using the Hay’s Code, this is just unbecoming, I suppose.
But now, we have a pretty good idea why the Academy ignores movies like Drive, which feature young people, appeal to young(er) people, and maybe move a little too fast and loud for all those old guys. While they are not the majority, there are also still opinions like this running around the Academy:
“I don’t see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That’s what the People’s Choice Awards are for,” said [Frank] Pierson [a former academy president and Oscar-winner in 1976 for Dog Day Afternoon], who still serves on the board of governors. “We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn’t reflect the general population, so be it.”
Like I said, this does not reflect the many quotes by several other members who absolutely recognize the need for change. But if this is the attitude they have to “wait out” (read: wait for those guys to die, since membership is for life), then that is looking like an uphill battle.
(via LA Times)
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