Since it was announced that no actors of color were chosen for any of the 20 major Academy Award nominations, some celebrities have announced that they are boycotting, on the fence, or simply not watching the Oscars this year.
Jada Pinkett Smith
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the actress and singer announced on Twitter and in a video that went viral that she would not be attending the awards ceremony, and suggested other celebrities of color do the same.
"The Academy has the right to acknowledge [and] invite whomever they choose," she said in the video. "Begging for acknowledgment ... diminishes dignity [and] power. ... So, let's let the Academy do them with all grace and love, and let's do us differently."
She and her husband, Will Smith, who was not nominated for his role in the critically acclaimed Concussion despite the Oscar buzz, were both invited to the awards this year.
Also on MLK's birthday, director Spike Lee announced in two posts on Instagram that he would not be attending the Oscars this year.
"How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?" Lee wrote.
He added that the "real battle" was not with the Academy, but with Hollywood executives.
Lee, in the style of most Oscar acceptance speeches, began by thanking the Academy for the honorary Oscar he received in November. But he added that, with no disrespect to Oscars host Chris Rock and other friends involved in the awards, he and his wife are declining their invitation to the ceremony in February.
But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!!
It's no coincidence I'm writing this as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". ...
As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote.
As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.
The following day, the twice-nominated writer-director posted a continuation of his first statement, asking the Academy why they don't think it's a "wise business decision" to have their "product" reflect the diversity of its consumers — moviegoers.
As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It's Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio.
Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don't You Think It's A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God's Earth?
I Ask, What's The Hold Up? And Please... Don't Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions.
It's Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television. ... Why Can't Hollywood Do The Same?
It's Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My
Children's Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A
Great Diverse America.
Days after his wife's announcement, Smith announced on Good Morning America that he would join her in the boycott.
Smith said that he and his wife's decision had nothing to do with him not being nominated, and everything to do with the issue of representation and influence.
Other actors said they were in support of the boycott, though they themselves would not be participating.
In an interview with the BBC Thursday morning. Ruffalo, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Spotlight, said he was "weighing" whether to attend the Oscars.
"I woke up in the morning thinking, 'What is the right way to do this?'" Ruffalo said. "Because if you look at Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, what he was saying is the good people who don't act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are purposely not acting and don't know the right way."
He added that he agreed with Spike Lee that the problem is bigger than the Academy Awards.
"The entire American system is rife with white privilege racism," he said. "It goes into our justice system."
He later tweeted that he would attend the ceremony to support victims of clergy sexual abuse — the subject of the film for which he was nominated — but added that he is sympathetic with the "ban."
After encouraging this year's Oscars host Chris Rock to "make a statement" about the lack of diversity, the Furious 7 star posted a series of statements on Instagram calling on everyone invited to the Oscars to join the boycott.
Gibson himself was not invited to the awards, but continued to speak publicly about his outrage over the nominations, including filming racially diverse groups of children on the street and saying he hopes "the Oscars sees this."
Like Gibson, Dogg was not invited to the Academy Awards, but said in a video captioned "Fuck da. Oscars" that he would not be watching.
"All these great movies and all this great shit y'all keep stealing from us," Dogg says angrily in the video, before yelling "Fuck you" repeatedly at the camera.
Ema O'Connor is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ema O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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