Charlotte Rampling, the legendary British actress who is up for her first Academy Award thanks to her work in Andrew Haigh's 45 Years, just noted in an interview with France's Radio 1 that the controversy over the exclusively white Oscar nominations is “racist to whites.” Ugh.
In the interview (which was translated from French by The Guardian), Rampling added comments about the merit that warrants an Oscar: “One can never really know, perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list. Do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”
She added: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he”s less handsome”; ‘Him, he”s too black”; ‘He is too white” … someone will always be saying ‘You are too” [this or that].”
It's fair to argue that Rampling gave one of the best performances of the past year, but apparently that doesn't mean she has perspective on this issue. What we should “take from this” is that, in a perfect world, there'd be plenty of movies starring (and produced by) people of color, they'd be equally considered for Oscars, and there'd be plenty more minority voters in the Academy. As it is, the Academy adds lots of members who've been nominated for the awards themselves, and that means white voters are added at a high rate. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has spoken about the need to reform this process.
When Rampling says, “These days everyone is more or less accepted,” she's denying the paucity of roles for minority actors, the unfairness that dictates what kinds of roles minority actors can play, and how it's impossible to have a merit-based Oscars when the overwhelmingly white electorate is picking winners and nominees. What's wrong with noticing that the Oscars are basically geared to praise white performers? I wish Rampling would take that steel resolve we saw in The Verdict and use it to gain some sympathy and understanding.