BCM332 Contextual Essay: #diversifyhollywood

In Chris Rock’s opening monologue at the 2016 Academy Awards, the host spoke about racial inequality hollywood. Although making jokes on the topic, his overall message was that they just want the same opportunities as white people, that’s it. Since 1929, only 6.4% of acting nominations at the Oscars have gone to non-white actors and in the last 25 years alone, only 11.2% of actors were non-white (Berman & Johnson, 2016). This is clearly not a new issue and yet the statistics have not changed enough for it to be better.

2016 saw the release of a number of amazing films which represented diversity, from their creators to the story lines such as “Beasts of No Nation”, “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton”. and yet it was the second year in a row that the academy has had zero non-white nominees in the acting categories. As a result, the Awards received a lot of negative reception with celebrities such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith boycotting the ceremony altogether (Gray, 2016).

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, released a statement in response to the criticisms stating, “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond….We have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly” (Isaacs, 2016).

The video I have created is a PSA / campaign video for a mock social movement called #diversifyhollywood. It aims to highlight the racial discrimination still existent in Hollywood and bring about change. Chris Rock’s speech is contrasted with the announcement of past Oscar winners who are all white. The fact that the awards ceremony can have an African American host yet cannot recognise the work of other non-white creatives in the industry highlights the irony of the issue. The end slogan, “This issue is black and white – so why isn’t Hollywood?” reiterates the clear message and using a rhetorical question influences viewers to truly think about the issue. While visually the message is clear, it is emphasised with a statistic to prove the reality of the situation and it ensures viewers it is not just a mashup bias to the cause.

Contextual Essay References:

Berman, E., Johnson, D., 2016, See the Entire History of The Oscars Diversity Problem In One Chart, Time Labs, weblog post, 20 January, viewed 26 October, http://labs.time.com/story/oscars-diversity/.

Galloway, S., 2016, ‘Academy President ‘Heartbroken’ Over Lack of Diversity at Oscars’, Time, 18 January, viewed 27 October 2016, http://time.com/4184688/academy-president-oscars-diversity/.

Gray, T., 2016, ‘Academy Nominates All White Actors for Second Year in Row’, Variety, 14 January, viewed 27 October 2016, http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/oscar-nominations-2016-diversity-white-1201674903/.

Video Sources (in order of appearance):

Oscars, 2016, Chris Rock’s Opening Monologue, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqhVNZgZGqQ.

Oscars, 2013, Jennifer Lawrence Wins Best Actress: 2013 Oscars, online video, 4 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDU7zLAd2-U.

Oscars, 2015, Julianne Moore Winning Best Actress, online video, 6 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzR3CUU51IU.

Oscars, 2013, Christoph Waltz winning Best Support Actor for “Django Unchained”, online video, 4 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWdn7pFmtdQ.

Oscars, 2016, Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpyrefzvTpI.

Oscars, 2015, Eddie Redmayne winning Best Actor, online video, 6 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ZVJgM-bZI.

Oscars, 2014, Cate Blanchett winning Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine”, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=squYKgRWZN0.

Oscars, 2014, Jared Leto winning Best Supporting Actor, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCtch3DzLRs.

Oscars, 2016, Alicia Vikander winning Best Supporting Actress, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdlzqmMDF3g.

Oscars, 2011, Colin Firth winning Best Actor, online video, 3 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aO5R6ezqio.

Oscars, 2016, Brie Larson winning Best Actress, online video, 23 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_lq5wORkYA.

Oscars, 2011, Nicholas Cage winning Best Actor, online video, 30 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jXi-Z3M9Us.

Oscars, 2010, Hilary Swank Wins Best Actress: 2005 Oscars, online video, 29 November, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWGNsP26ttQ.

Oscars, 2008, Julia Roberts winning an Oscar, online video, 24 April, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV0YbYECU7A.

Oscars, 2011, Christian Bale winning Best Supporting Actor, online video, 3 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsEGpXlpcO8.

Oscars, 2009, Angelina Jolie Wins Supporting Actress: 2000 Oscars, online video, 28 September, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPWpHWr1L7s.

Oscars, 2014, Matthew McConaughey winning Best Actor, online video, 11 March, The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, viewed 25 October 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD2cVhC-63I.

Berman, E., Johnson, D., 2016, See the Entire History of The Oscars Diversity Problem In One Chart, Time Labs, weblog post, 20 January, viewed 26 October, http://labs.time.com/story/oscars-diversity/.

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