Spike Lee Doesn’t Think BlackKklansman Would Have Gotten Oscar Noms Without #OscarsSoWhite

ADam Driver and John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman

This week's Oscar nominations were a good day for Spike Lee and his newest film. BlacKkKlansman received six nominations including a Best Supporting Actor nod for Adam Driver, a Best Director slot for Lee himself, and a Best Picture nomination. The movie is certainly in a good position heading into next month's awards ceremony, and Spike Lee thinks that recent Oscar protests are to thank for that. Lee says that the #OscarsSoWhite social media movement is the reason his film got this recognition. According to the director...

Well, let’s be honest. This would have not happened if there was not the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. What that campaign did, it made the Academy understand that they had to diversify their membership. Look at Moonlight — the diversity of the voting members makes a difference, so if you want to go back to 1989, that membership was not feeling Do the Right Thing [laughs], they weren’t feeling that. But, look, we’re here today, it’s not 1989, and the world knows where Do the Right Thing is in the place of American history, world history, cinema history, so that’s a given. We’re here today, and I’m so happy for everyone who got the blessing to be nominated for a very important film. And I think when historians, many years down the line, look for a piece of art that crystalized the crazy motherf—ing time we live in, they’re going to BlacKkKlansman at the top of the list, that is my belief. And I’d also like to say this film is on the right side of history, the right side of history.

OscarsSoWhite became a social media hashtag in 2016 when, following the announcement of the Oscar nominations that year, not a single person of color was nominated for any of the acting awards. The lack of diversity among nominees had been called out before, but that year frustration seemed to come to a head and the hashtag went viral.

Spike Lee tells EW that he thinks the movement had its desired effect, and it made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences realize that it needed to diversify its membership. The Academy made several changes to the way it handled its membership in order to address these concerns.

Spike Lee seems to feel those changes have already borne fruit, as he credits them with Moonlight's win in the Best Picture category two years ago as well as for BlacKkKlansman's success this week.

It certainly is true that while Spike Lee has become one of the most respected film director's working today, this is the first time he's received Oscar recognition in that category. Lee himself points out that his film Do the Right Thing is, without question, viewed today as a remarkable achievement in film, but at the time it was largely overlooked by the Academy, receiving only two Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay.

Spike Lee's nomination in the screenplay category for Do the Right Thing, along with a Best Documentary Feature nomination in 1998, are the only Oscars he was ever nominated for prior to this year. He was given an honorary Oscar in 2016.

It's impossible to know for certain just what the true impact of #OscarsSoWhite really has been, or will be, but one thing that's certain is that BlacKkKlansman is certainly giving Spike Lee the recognition that he deserves today.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.