Academy Promises to ‘Diversity’ Voting Members After #OscarsSoWhite Outcry

by Tasbeeh Herwees

January 22, 2016
Photo via Flickr user Davidlohr Bueso

In an attempt to rescue their legacy from the dark pit of irrelevance, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors voted to implement a four-year plan that would double the number of “women and diverse members” in its voting pool. The overwhelmingly white, male organization—troubled by its rapidly declining power in an ever-evolving world—released a press release this week, after the Oscar nominations provoked outrage over the exclusion of black and brown artists.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in the statement. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Isaacs’ statement comes after Jada Pinkett Smith posted a video online suggesting a boycott of the awards. Spike Lee and Will Smith also threatened to boycott. White actors, including George Clooney and Mark Ruffalo, weighed in with tepid support of the cause but not the boycott. Other white actors, like Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine, made the mistake of voicing their terrible opinions on the subject. Rampling suggested that perhaps no black actors deserved awards (an absurd assertion if there ever was one); Caine patronizingly suggested his black peers “be patient.”

The Academy’s new plan involves changing the voting rules to allow for frequent turnover. Members will only be able to keep their voting status for 10 years, rather than forever, and they can renew their voting status if they’ve been active in the Academy. Additionally, the Academy says it will be running a campaign to recruit new members who “represent greater diversity.”

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Academy Promises to ‘Diversity’ Voting Members After #OscarsSoWhite Outcry