Categories for Academy Awards (Siraanamwong/Adobe Stock)
History was made during the Oscars when the South Korean dark comedy film “Parasite“ received the most awards of the night, including best picture. This is the first time in history that a non-English speaking film won the big prize, which is an amazing feat. The film was nominated for six awards overall winning best Picture, best Director, best Foreign Film, and best Original Screenplay.
All the awards “Parasite” received were well earned, but this does not change that fact that the Oscars has long struggled with nominating a diverse group of individuals from the entertainment industry. This major critique on the lack of diversity gained much of its speed in 2015 when the #OscarsSoWhite movement was trending on Twitter.
Since then, improvements have been made. In the 2019 Oscars more women and people of color were awarded for their work than ever before, but this trend did not continue on Sunday evening.
In contrast to last season’s award show, the 2020 Oscars seemed particularly whitewashed. Between the best and leading actor/actress categories, there was only one person of color nominated for an award, Cynthia Erivo for her leading role in “Harriet.”
“It disappointing,” said Avery Johnson, Saddleback student. “Our modern society is so diverse, and that should be represented in an event so many people admire.”
There were many instances throughout the night where the lack of diversity was called out. The most notable were Natalie Portman’s dress embroidered with the names of female directors of major films who were not represented in this year’s awards, the only half-joking introductory speech between Steve Martin and Chris Rock where they state the biggest change between the 1929 Oscars and the most recent is that now there was one black nominee instead of zero, and Janelle Monáe’s opening musical number that advocated for empowerment for women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Walking around campus to get student’s opinions on this topic was a very interesting experience. Admittedly, most students who I questioned had not even watched the awards show, and those who had did not have much of an opinion on the issue of diversity. But those who did have an opinion felt very strongly about the issue at hand.
“I think it’s great how a film like “Parasite“ is able to win the biggest award of the night even without it being a mainstream, English-speaking film,” said Irelyn Huggins, a Freshman at Saddleback College. “It shows that other films like that one have a chance to be more successful now than in the past.”
There were a wide range of movies in 2019 with a majority non-white cast, such as “Us”, “Dolemite Is My Name,” and “Queen and Slim“. As we near closer to the Oscars being almost a century old, it is astounding how the white nominations are still so over-saturated.
“The world is changing, and while it seems to be changing slower than most institutions,” said Ava Mohammadi, a student at Saddleback College. “I think the people behind the Oscars are seeing what people want and are taking it deeper into consideration when they make their nominations.”
This trend of progress must continue. The awards show should be an accurate representation of talent in currently Hollywood, and this will only happen through equal representation in awards ceremonies.