The Corner

Film & TV

And the Oscar Goes to . . . Wokeness

An Oscar statue is pictured during a media preview of this year’s Academy’s Governors Ball in Los Angeles, California, January 31, 2020. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it will require films to meet “diversity” standards to be eligible to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, laying out their mandates in a press release. Here is one of the four “standards”:

STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES
To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
• Asian
• Hispanic/Latinx
• Black/African American
• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
• Middle Eastern/North African
• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:
• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
• Women
• Racial or ethnic group
• LGBTQ+
• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

In 2024, competing films will have to meet at least two of the four standards. However, for the 2022 and 2023 Academy Awards ceremonies, films must only submit “a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form.”

Deadline columnist Peter Hammond remarked that required diversity mandates were “a key sea change for an organization that had resisted imposing specific moviemaking rules on the industry.” The changes, he wrote, “could not come at a more opportune time in light of worldwide movements for equality in all walks of life.”

Well, it’s not hard to imagine why so many Academy members “resisted imposing specific moviemaking rules.” These totalitarian mandates could degrade the quality of filmmaking and storytelling and stifle brilliance. Just last year, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino respectively made The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. They flunk the new litmus test and flaunt artistry, not wokeness. In fact, most Best Picture winners or nominees wouldn’t make the cut in 2024. Moreover, with stricter diversity quotas in place, the Academy members might’ve feared alienating ordinary audiences, because the rules fly in the face of common-sense fairness. They are also paternalistic, demeaning, and fussy. How many average movie-goers will tune into awards ceremonies if the show and the nature of the awards bestowed upon filmmakers become political rather than meritocratic? Finally, older Academy members got their start in the ’70s and ’80s, when few paid lip service to political trends. They mostly cared about the art, the technical craft, proximity to power, deal-making, and, naturally, the fame. They never cared about a person’s feelings — except if that person had clout and the ability to increase ticket sales.

And none of that has really changed. As it happens, Hollywood elite will do just about anything — such as denying the existence of a genocide — in order to appease the powers that be. But now, all of Hollywood’s upper crust must cuddle up with the ideology du jour lest they be accused of racism, see their careers nixed, and face lawsuits from “underrepresented” groups — the starving artists and underpaid assistants who claim to be victims of discrimination in a very exclusive, ruthless, and discriminatory world: showbiz.

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