Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Oscars 2016: The unsilence of the director

CELEBRATED Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, in a guest column for Deadline.com, weighed in with his perspective on the Oscars controversy:

“For me, raised on white, male-dominated American movies as a kid, I now hunger for diversity in, well, all aspects of life, and certainly in films. Black lives matter. Black stories matter. Black artists matter. We’ve all got to try a whole lot harder to, as Spike Lee is fond of saying, “Wake up!” to what our country is really all about. Taken to a logical conclusion, a more diversity-seeking Academy would nurture a greater diversity-hungry audience, and bigger box-office than ever imagined would most likely follow for one and all. …

“It’s exciting that the Academy has responded so swiftly and openly with an admission of the white male dominance of our films, our industry, and our awards,” wrote Demme, who won a Golden Dude for “The Silence of the Lambs.” “Wouldn’t it be so wise, and so very correct, to not wait for next year to address this enormous challenge/problem? Instead, let’s recalibrate this year’s votes, expanding the entries in all categories. ...”

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the Academy’s ready for an across-the-board tweaking of this year’s nomination process. Almost certainly not. In principle, Demme’s idea is great; there’s no time like the present to fix mistakes that shouldn’t have been made in the first place. But you can bet that the main scream from Hollywood would be “there’s not enough time for that!” — followed by the kind of deliberate institutional immobility that would make such a statement a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Demme surely realizes there’s not a chance in hell of this happening. But outrageous as it is, his idea communicates urgency, and the understanding that the Academy will be this demographically myopic, this institutionally rigid at the peril of losing more of its centrality in the wider popular culture.

Image credits: Demme: Via IMDb.

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