“All White Oscars” cause an all-out protest.
Fame, fashion, and glamour. Such was the scene at the 88th Annual Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 in Hollywood. The most prestigious award in cinema was awarded to many top players in the film industry and further advanced the career of newcomers. Conflict found the lucrative event when, for the second year in a row, an all white ballot upset viewers raising concerns of black inequality within the Academy. The Oscars took place on Sunday as usual, but this time the faces changed and the cheering turned to protest as a group of protesters came together to let their voices be heard.
The National Action Network, a civil rights organization created by Reverend Al Sharpton, protested the all white Oscar nominees on Sunday just outside the event's vehicle entrance making sure that everyone who drove past took notice of their message.
“A lot of good movies came out by us black folks, at least we could get recognition for one, but we didn’t,” said Yvette Campbell, a woman marching alongside the protesters. Supporters of the group held signs that read “Shame On You” and “This Is What Diversity Looks Like.”
Reverend Al Sharpton stood above the crowd on a staircase alongside Najee Ali, a controversial black rights activist. “We’re not saying who must win, but if you’ve been locked out of the process, then you are dealing with a systemic problem of exclusion,” said Sharpton. The reverend/activist made reference to films that failed to be nominated such as Will Smith’s “Concussion” and Ice Cube's “Straight Outta Compton” which, in his opinion, deserved to be nominated.
Not everyone in attendance was in support of the protest. Just outside of the parking lot where the demonstration was held, police were present and they promptly removed an instigator who opposed the goings on.
“I think that diversity in the oscars should be happening, but I think [protesting] is going to have a reverse effect, and next year there is going to be a black [actor] who has protested but the movie won’t be that good but they’ll still put him in there because of the diversity problem,” said Nathan Gorecki, an active Black Lives Matter protester.
Sharpton warned the crowd and all of those listening that they “will not continue to allow the Oscar’s to continue, this will be the last night of an all white Oscars.” Whether Sharpton and the National Action Network’s efforts pay off remain to be seen, but Hollywood is surely aware of the situation. Chris Rock, host of the Oscars, based most of his jokes on the controversy surrounding the event but also made a serious effort to address the controversy saying, “It’s not about boycotting anything, it’s just that we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities.”
While the controversy ultimately didn't alter much of the night's events this year, next year all eyes will again be on the skin color of the nominees.
For more information about the controversial Oscar ceremony's broadcast read our coverage by Corsair Arts & Entertainment Editor Jacob Hirsohn.