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On Thursday January 14 2016 the 88th annual Academy Award Nominations were announced. All 20 actors nominated where white, stirring up a debate regarding diversity on twitter under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite spearheaded by film maker Spike Lee & actress Jada Pinket Smith.
Their contention was that the Oscars lacked adequate racial diversity.
First I looked at the overall population of the united states by ethnic percentages.
63% of the us population is white. 13.2% is black. 17% is Hispanic and 4.7 % Asian.
Over the past 20 years 12.5% of Oscar recipients in the acting category have been black – while 13 percent of the general population is black. A difference of less than 1 percentage point.
Compare that with the 4% of Hispanic Oscar winners. A difference of 13 percentage points. In fact no Latino has received an Oscar for acting since Benicio del Toro won Best Supporting Actor for the film Traffic in 2000.
According to a much-cited 2012 Los Angeles Times survey, the group of industry insiders that run the Oscars are, 94% white, 77% male, and are a median age of 63 years old.
Considering the ratio of the Academy, it's a fair criticism to say that membership probably plays a role in the types of films and performances that get Oscar attention.
But is it fair to say the less than 1% discrepancy between Black award winners and Blacks as a percentage of the US population is a racist conspiracy?
So what about racial representation in the movies and TV in general?
A study of the top grossing films was done by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg school, they found that the fantasy world created by Hollywood does not typically reflect what the face of America looks like in our real world.
Of the 3,932 speaking characters that were evaluated by the college, 74.1% were White, 14.1% were Black, only 4.9% Hispanic, followed last by 4.4% of Asians.
To give a little perspective, according to the 2010 census Asians make up roughly 4.7 % of the US population.
Except when it comes to Hispanics. There's a deep discrepancy of almost 14 percentage points.
It should be noted that although the census says that 17% of Americans are Latinos, it's fair to assume that those figures don't accurately represent the 12 million estimated undocumented immigrants from Hispanic countries currently residing in the US.
Furthermore, an analysis of 16 broadcast and cable scripted show samples from the 2012 - 2013 season also found that:
Black characters again, were over represented as a percentage of US population, while Hispanics were notably underrepresented.
Finally, who goes to see movies? If many of Hollywood's stars are turning to a boycott where are Latinos in this protest?
Especially since a 2013 MPAA study found that 25% of box office sales were to Hispanic moviegoers, despite comprising only 17% of the population. Whereas Blacks make up 13% of the population and proportionally 13% of movie tickets sold. White movie goers make up just over half of all tickets sold at 54% despite making up 63% of the total US population. Since the film industry is not a single entity, but rather a collection of profit driven private companies whose goal is to produce movies people want to see. Another aspect of film production that is largely unknown by passive movie goers is, that as a matter of business, a considerable amount of research is factored into the actor selection process, and greatly influences a studio's final casting choices. If an actor with a particular look garners a strong reaction from focus group screenings, than it's more likely movie studios will use those actors as they will draw a larger audience & bring in more box office sales.
What, if any, actions should be taken?
Should Hollywood adopt affirmative action standards?
Should ethnicity in film only be represented proportional to their percentage of the population? In which case, the percentage of Whites and Blacks should go down.
Or should the film industry just be left alone to the market mechanism of supply & demand?
#Ice #Cube #stacy #dash #infographic #racism #Meryl Streep #leonardo #dicaprio #Halle Berry #Will Smith