January 15, 2020
Yet another Oscars season, yet another outcry over #OscarsSoWhite (no spoilers here: they still are). Academy member Stephen King, who defended the nominations, tweeted: “For me, the diversity issue — as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway — did not come up. That said...,” followed with “...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
I was left scratching my head about the “quality” King was referring to. I’m no E. Alex Jung, I studied film only as a college student, and I haven’t watched every nominated film but I can confidently say that not all of the films the Academy deems worthy are “quality” — films with innovative writing, thoughtful acting and directing, and boundary-pushing cinematography.
Furthermore, when I asked folks in and around the industry what they think the Academy looks for, quality rarely came up — rather, the movies that won nominations were often chosen due to a predetermined mix of what was available to watch, marketing budgets, and just the spirit of the time.