In the wake of the 2016 Oscar nominations, many are speaking out against the films and performances AMPAS has decided to reward this year. First, there was Jada Pinkett Smith’s suggestion that maybe black actors, directors, and other members of Hollywood shouldn’t participate in the Oscars as presenters and performers if they weren’t going to be included in the stable of nominees. Now, a producer of Straight Outta Compton, which probably deserved more than the nominations it received (especially one for Best Picture), has published a letter calling out the Oscars for their shortcomings in recognizing diverse projects and performers.
Even though Straight Outta Compton screenwriters Andrea Berloff and Jon Herman got a Best Screenplay nomination, they are noticeably some of the few people involved with the movie who are white. Will Packer made sure to congratulate them in his post, but chastised The Academy in equal measure. Packer’s Facebook post included these comments:
To my #OscarsSoWhite folks who are angry at the absurd lack of diversity highlighted yet again by this year’s Oscar noms. Trust me, I get it. Those of us in the industry who labor to make the best content we can are especially sensitive to a perceived systemic bias against a group of people or type of film. One thing I will say, is that The Academy’s voting record is only part of the issue. These films/performances and the scripts that drive them often go into development YEARS before they are released and thus in Oscar contention.
After stressing the idea that more movies need to be sent into production now so that the Oscars have something to nominate in the next few years, Packer continues:
To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat—it’s embarrassing. It’s unfair to the performers of color who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line AND DELIVERED with their projects this year. It’s also unfair to the white actors, writers, producers and directors who gave everything they had to create career defining content only to have it marred by the fact that a lack of diversity calls into question the legitimacy of The Academy’s choices.
Packer’s message is balanced and unbiased in his frustrations. In specifically calling out Sheryl Boone Isaacs in a positive way for her diversification efforts, his post seems less like a bout of anger about his movie’s lack of noms and more like a reasonable and necessary call to arms about the current issue. With any luck, Packer’s words will actually wake some people up and next year the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag will seem like a joke instead of a sad truth.