The Academy Awards are always full of “glamour and glitter, diamonds and dresses” as host Neil Patrick Harris sang in his opening number. But while these things may be what draw many of us in, that’s not all there is to The Oscars. This year’s Oscars touched on several sensitive subjects, such as current racial and gender relations in the United States. Winning the Oscar for Best Original Song (“Glory” from “Selma) opened up the floor for Common and John Legend to talk about racial discrimination in the U.S. today.
The 87th Academy Awards were, once again, mostly full of white nominees. This didn’t go unnoticed, causing much controversy in the weeks leading up to and continuing throughout the event. This live-tweet by blog Racialicious reflects much of these sentiments felt towards the Oscars, with tongue-in-cheek references to the whiteness of the show. With many believing that “Selma” got snubbed for many of the nominations, there were bound to be negative reactions directed towards the awards. However, Harris didn’t shy away from this controversy, openly joking about the lack of minority representation with “tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest.”
However, with all this conversation directed towards black discrimination, other minority groups are often left out of the picture. Latinos and Asians are among the largest visible minority groups in America, yet prejudice against them rarely gets brought up in the light of black discrimination. This isn’t to say that all the attention placed on the black community is unmerited but perhaps it would be beneficial to also take a look on the less publicized minority communities as well. The LA Times points out that although Latinos make up 32% of “frequent moviegoers,” they only hold 4% of the speaking roles out of the 100 top-grossing films in 2012. Minority groups are often pigeonholed into certain roles, with little opportunity to expand outside of them.
Some films like “Big Hero 6,” which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, have taken a step forward in terms of representing a cast of varied races that include the frequently underrepresented African-American, Asian-American, and Latin-American races. This multicultural cast is placed in “San Fransokyo,” a playful blend of the American and Japanese cultures found in San Francisco and Tokyo. This fusion works surprisingly well, with all the cool of a foreign culture seamlessly melding with the familiarity of a local culture. It’s probably easier to showcase diversity when a film is animated, but this just might be the gateway we need for a more multicultural 88th Academy Awards.