With the Oscars premiering with a little more than a week, a Hi’s Eye staffer reflects on the controversy surrounding the famous awards show.

by Caroline Barry

With the announcement of nominations for the 2016 Oscars, I can’t help but feel disappointed yet again in the lack of diversity of this major entertainment industry. The film industry has always been infamously white/male dominated, and based on the 2016 nominee lineup of actors and directors, this year is no exception.

In 2015 and 2016, no non-white actors were nominated for any acting awards, which has prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Since 1927, only 24 people of color have received awards for acting, according to washingtonpost.com, and Halle Berry is the only non-white actress ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Disappointingly, women have only been 16% of all Oscar nominees ever, according to indiewire.com. Kathryn Bigelow is the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director for her war film The Hurt Locker. This year’s nominations for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Music Score, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, are all male, according to oscar.go.com.

As a prospective female film student, these statistics alarm me. The film industry has always been a male-dominated field, but I’d love to see these numbers change by the time I’ll be participating in the industry professionally. I don’t attribute this poor diversity to a lack of non-white or female actors, directors and editors; rather, there is a systematic flaw in the film industry today. The people who create our entertainment determine what we get out of it: reinforced stereotypes.

Female characters are constantly being oversexualized in films, television shows and video games. This creates a stereotype of unprofessionalism that prevents women from being taken seriously in the film industry. We need more women writing, directing, producing and starring as main roles in our entertainment. Women are the only ones who can truly comprehend the gap between the sexes in American society. So don’t just sit back and naively wonder why the Tina Fey-written classic Mean Girls was more spot-on about girls than any romantic comedy or Nicholas Sparks movie.

It seems the academy may be listening to our cries for equality. On January 22, the academy made a statement that it will be making radical changes to increase diversity in the membership of the committee, according to nytimes.com. The changes appear to work gradually as the academy’s goal is to double the number of minority and female members within the next four years, according to the same source. I’m happy to know the academy is working in the right direction to fix their #OscarsSoWhite mistakes, but more still needs to be done to truly solve the gaps in diversity throughout the film industry as a whole.

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