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Reese Witherspoon Joins Voices Calling for Oscars Voting Reform

Reese Witherspoon
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Reese Witherspoon has weighed in on the Oscars debate over the Academy’s continued trend of all-white acting nominees, and she added worthy call for a review of the nominations’ gender diversity, too.

“I really appreciated this article in TIME on the lack of racial and gender diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations,” the actress, who won the 2006 Best Actress Oscar for Walk the Line, wrote on Facebook.

“So disappointed that some of 2015’s best films, filmmakers and performances were not recognized…Nothing can diminish the quality of their work, but these filmmakers deserve recognition. As an Academy member, I would love to see a more diverse voting membership.”

The staggering lack of diversity among Academy voters has come under increasing scrutiny, even as Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said herself that she’s “heartbroken and frustrated” by the homogenous nominee choices. According to a 2012 investigation by the LA Times, “Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male.” African American voters made for roughly 2% of the academy, while Latinos are less than 2%. There weren’t even any statistics on Asian-American voters — comedian Aziz Ansari’s fantastic Master of None series often addresses the issue of Asian invisibility in Hollywood, and that certainly seems to apply to awards recognition.

Academy CEO Dawn Hudson told the Hollywood Reporter that they’ve taken steps to remedy this lopsidedness in recent years, which have “resulted in every class in the last four years being more diverse than the previous classes” — yet, as she admits, “the needle hasn’t moved.”

Another fact you might not know: Academy membership is for life, and many voting members haven’t worked in the industry for decades. There’s a debate over changing membership to exclude those who haven’t had a film credit in over 10 years — which, frankly, toes the line of age discrimination — but it does mean that some of the overwhelmingly white, male majority of retirees voting may not have even chosen to watch Straight Out of Compton or Beasts of No Nation, much less nominate it for an Oscar.

Awards show honors are arbitrary by nature — for the record, this writer saw The Big Short and it was FINE if not Best Picture-worthy — but they’re ultimately a mirror of our culture’s collective values and tastes. When it comes to diversity of nominees AND of genre/film topic, the Academy’s choices remain stodgy even as streaming services have given us access to such a varied range of new voices and subjects. Here’s just 10 great movies directed by women last year, courtesy of IndieWire! It makes the limited pool of current favorites as head-scratching as it can be infuriating. There’s no need to return to the well of Academy darlings year after year — and as one herself, kudos to Witherspoon for speaking up.

Oscars 2016: Surprises and the Disappointing Snubs

Next: Will Smith to Skip Oscars Alongside Jada Pinkett Smith

 

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