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No controversy would ever be complete without Saturday Night Live providing a pitch perfect commentary on the matter. They’ve done it for the political process, celebrity scandals, and just about every major blockbuster released in recent memory. Their latest take on American culture involves the decidedly monochromatic Oscar nominations that recently caused a storm of controversy. Check out the sketch below to see it for yourself.
The sketch opens with Cecily Strong introducing all of the best performances from the last year. Each entry represents a thinly veiled version of some of the year’s best films, ranging from Creed, to Straight Outta Compton, to Beasts of No Nation. Despite the racial themes and strong performances from black actors in these fictional movies, the men nominated for their performances are all white. Some of the men nominated barely had any impact on the overall plot of their films at all. As the names are called, the black actors who arguably deserved center stage for their contributions just look on angrily without saying a word to the oblivious white nominees. When all of the nominations have been sounded off, it is then revealed that a five-way tie has been reached, and "all the white guys" have been chosen as this year’s winners. The last comment made before the sketch comes to an end is the announcer telling audiences to stay tuned, because the award for "best male director" will be announced shortly, highlighting the fact that Hollywood's diversity issues extend beyond race.
It’s a hilarious skit, but it also points to an issue faced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year. 2015 featured numerous strong performances from actors of color, particularly black actors, but the Academy only nominated white actors for their performances. This has led to a serious controversy in Hollywood in which celebrities of all colors have chimed in to condemn the Academy for their selection process. As a result of the overall outcry, the Academy recently revealed that they would overhaul their membership and voting processes in order to ensure a more fair selection of performances that does not skew in any one racial direction.
No matter how you view the controversy, a bigger commitment to diversity will never necessarily be a bad thing. The hope is that future Academy Awards ceremonies will feature a wider range of performers from all races and ethnicities, because that means Hollywood will be producing more substantial movies that cover a wide range of subject matter. If you have yet to check out the SNL skit above, do yourself a favor and check it out; it makes a serious point, but is also just good for a few laughs.