The dust has most certainly not settled on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in the wake of “Selma's” perceived snubs by the Academy Thursday. I missed George Lucas' appearance on CBS This Morning, where he pretty much called the Oscars what they are: “a political campaign.”
Of course, Lucas has maintained his fiercely independent ways for years and, as a non-member who has no desire to join the Academy (for these reasons), is perfectly content with being this outspoken. “It has nothing to do with artistic endeavor,” he said.” What it does is I think it hurts everybody.”
In dealing with perceived racism within the group – not specifically re: “Selma,” but in general – he made the same point Jessica Chastain did, that Awards are just a reflection of a disease. “You're not talking about the show [when you talk about racism], you're talking about Hollywood,” he said. “It's not just the show. It's everything, everywhere…David [Oyelowo] was in 'Red Tails' [which Lucas produced]. We went through the same thing on 'Red Tails': Those kind of movies are very hard to get out there.
Meanwhile, Cheryl Boone Isaacs was asked about the situation by the Associated Press and she offered up the company lines:
“In the last two years, we've made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members. And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”
“What is important not to lose sight of is that 'Selma,' which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people.”
I still maintain that in a great many instances – actors and directors who did not receive screeners before the holiday break due to agency mailings, for instance – the film was underseen. I think “racism” is a stretch, even if I know that those pointing to last year's Best Picture victory for “12 Years a Slave” fail to understand that many people did not see that film, but voted for it anyway.
But I think Lucas' point and Chastain's still stands, objectively. Getting “these kind of films” – i.e., films from a minority point of view – remain difficult to push through the system, for obvious reasons.
Meanwhile, “American Sniper” is predictably cleaning up at the box office and leaving many wondering if it's catching a stride at the perfect time. If it does, and that is reflected in Oscar glory next month – watch out.
Check out Lucas' interview below.