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Are The Oscars Finally Not “So White”?

Last night’s Academy Awards were notable for more than just Warren Beatty’s colossal blunder of awarding the Best Picture prize to La La Land instead of Moonlight. It was the first Oscar broadcast since last year’s controversial one in which many minority artists decided to boycott because of the lack of diversity. You will recall that the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter as the nominees in both acting and behind the scenes were as lily white as the driven snow. This year was more eclectic. Yes, one of the big winners was a movie about jazz starring two of the Whitest people ever, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. But Moonlight and Hidden Figures, two movies starring and created by People of Color also took home top prizes.

Moonlight in particular is a huge win for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t just a movie starring African-Americans but it was directed by one as well, Barry Jenkins. The Academy also changed leadership from old crusty White dudes to African-American Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Latinos were nominated in a couple of categories, most notably Lin-Manuel Miranda who fell just short of EGOTing last night for a song from Moana. Unfortunately, there were little to no Asians on the stage at all and the LGBTQ contingent was not as out in force as in past years.

Of course, there is the problem that men accused of sexual assault and abuse of women like Casey Affleck and Mel Gibson were celebrated on the show. Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea in spite of several allegations of sexual misconduct. Poor Brie Larson had to hand Affleck, who she thinks is disgusting, his awards. She conspicuously kept her arms at her side. Mel Gibson’s film Hacksaw Ridge also took home several awards. It just sounds strange to hear people praise Mel Gibson as a genius filmmaker after the abuse, sexism, anti-Semitic remarks, and general bad behavior. I guess that the Academy is open to minorities now but they are sort of also fine with men who abuse women. There has definitely been progress but they are still a long way to away from woke.

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