Inclusion at the Oscars…Smart or Bust?/by Marquisha Mathis

The Oscars recently announced that starting in 2024, diversity and inclusion will be required when films are being submitted for nominations.

This is good news to hear. In the past, award shows have made people wonder why some films get nominated and others don’t. People also wonder what goes on behind the scenes. How do these particular movies get into a category? Of course it’s a combination of talent and hard work, but what about the movies that were good and didn’t get nominated?

Inclusivity and diversity are going to play big roles in this new season of the Oscars. This makes everyone, no matter what race they are, feel included. With these changes, people who have certain feelings toward the Oscars may change their perspectives entirely in 2024.

The first new standard says that for a film to be submitted for Best Picture, one of the actors must be from a community that is underrepresented, or have actors who are 30% in secondary and minor roles be underrepresented, or have a role that is involved around an actor that is in an underrepresented group.

We need films that will have actors from diverse backgrounds. It gives us a range of actors to look at and say, “Hey, they did really well in this role. They deserve the Oscar.”

While actors work very hard on their movies, sometimes we forget about how all of it gets made in the first place. As a result, the second standard will be about people behind the scenes who make it all come together. Award shows do make an effort to include the people who are a part of the crew.

This is about bringing in more diversity altogether and allowing audiences to see people from around the world.

The third standard is focused on industry access, requiring that the film provide paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities to those in underrepresented groups. 

Lastly, standard four requires that a film’s marketing, publicity, and distribution have multiple in-house senior executive groups from underrepresented groups.

There are some good ideas here. However, they may be making a little bit of a stretch for the Best Picture category.

Some celebrities have spoken out on the matter, wondering who the Oscars think they are. This is supposed to be about expression, and a few believe that the new rules are trying to control artists as well as individual thought. These celebrities think that this is the wrong way for the Oscars to go, believing award shows should just stick to what they had at the beginning where there wasn’t too much extra to add.

Maybe the standards are a little bit much, but if the Oscars want to create equal representation on- and off-screen in order to showcase diversity and inclusion, then that’s a great thing. So, was this a smart idea on the Oscars’ part, or a bust?

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