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This week the 2020 Academy Award nominations were revealed and while there is always a great deal of debate about who received nominations, and who was snubbed, the topic of diversity within the nominating process has been a significant one in recent years. The hashtag Oscars So White started trending a few years ago and while things appeared to be on moving in a positive direction for the last couple of years, some felt that this year's nominations were a step backward rather than forward.
Specifically, with the the acting categories the were a significant lack of people of color nominated, and no women were nominated in the directing category, despite several potential choices.
Author Stephen King is a member of the Academy's writer's branch, and as such, gets to vote for Best Picture as well as the writing categories. While he wasn't involved in any of the nominating of actors or directors, and thus has no dog in that fight, he did take to Twitter to voice his views on the general topic of Oscar voting.
King then followed up that tweet with a second one in which he explained that he, for one, simply doesn't take issues of diversity into consideration when casting his Oscar ballot.
King's comments have been met with a variety of responses. While the idea of voting for art strictly on its own sake is certainly a not uncommon opinion, many are responding to King's tweet that such things can only really be done when all other things are equal, and in this case, they're not.
For whatever it's worth, the two screenplay categories fared slightly better than the acting categories when it came to diversity. Both the Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay short list include both women and people of color among their number. South Korea's Parasite was nominated for Best Original Screenplay as was 1917, which Sam Mendes wrote with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. In the Adapted Screenplay category, Greta Gerwig, who was passed over for Best Director, did receive a nomination, as did Taika Waititi.
Few would argue that diversity isn't important, but there are clearly different views regarding how important it is or how it should be handled. Everybody wants the best in their field to be rewarded for their work, but with Academy voters still not matching the diversity of the world at large, or the increasingly diverse field of movie makers, we're only seeing one perspective when it comes how to judge what makes something the best.
Certainly, this is no simple topic with no simple solution. This will be debated for the next month until the Academy Awards are handed out, and we'll likely be back here a year from now discussing it again.