Are the Oscar’s new diversity guidelines inclusive or intrusive?

Zackary Zeller

In a historic move, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put forth sweeping eligibility guidelines on their biggest award of the night, “Best Picture.” The Oscars established these guidelines to address a lack of diversity and equal representation on and off-screen, highlighting different minorities.

The Academy has established four broad representation categories on and off the silver screen. For “Best Picture,” films will have to meet two of the four new standards which center on the inclusion of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, LGBTQ+ people and those with cognitive or physical disabilities. 

The Academy has listed examples of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups on their website, which include: Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African-American, Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native, Middle Eastern/North African, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

Each of these standards has subcategories. To meet the new guidelines for the on-screen representation category, a film must fulfill at least one of the following requirements: one lead character or supporting character must be from underrepresented racial or ethnic group, 30% of secondary roles must be from at least two underrepresented groups, or the theme or narrative of the film must focus on these groups.

The next category addresses the creative leadership process and the behind-the-scenes crew of a film. In order to qualify, people from underrepresented groups must occupy at least two leadership positions or departmental heads, and a minimum of six crew members, or at least 30% out of the total number of the crew, must belong to an underrepresented group.

A third category requires studios to give paid internship and training opportunities to underrepresented groups, and a fourth category requires senior marketing and publicity executives to be from these groups.

Films will submit confidential inclusion standards forms, though the list isn’t required for “Best Picture” nominees for the upcoming 94th and 95th Academy Awards.

Every Academy member can vote for the “Best Picture” Oscar. This year, the South Korean film “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win the award.

“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them,” said David Rubin, the Academy president, and CEO Dawn Hudson in a written statement. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

For the most part, this was a welcomed change from the Academy. However, others found the move to be intrusive on the creative liberties of directors and the movies these directors bring to life in theaters across the globe.

 “This is a disgrace to artists everywhere,” said actress Kirstie Alley on Twitter. “Can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f—ing paintings?”

Regardless of opinion, these changes will not affect the 93rd Academy Awards. The implementation of these guidelines will not go into effect until the 96th ceremony in 2024.

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