Are the Oscars' new diversity quotas good for films and filmmakers?


Fact Box

  • The 93rd Academy Awards is set to air April 25, 2021, moved from its annual February airdate. The 1st Academy Awards was held May 16, 1929, honoring the best movies of 1927 and 1928. 
  • It is the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) formed in 1927 by and for film professionals to vote on excellence in the film industry. 
  • The 1953 25th Academy Awards was the first televised Oscars ceremony; in 1966, the 38th Academy Awards was the first Oscars ceremony telecast in color; and the 1969 41st Academy Awards was the first time the Oscars ceremony was broadcast to 200 countries worldwide.
  • The awards statuette, originally named the Academy Award of Merit, was formed by MGM art director Ceddric Gibbons. It’s a streamlined figure of a knight gripping a sword, standing upon a film reel, and is coated in 24-karat-gold. But the famous statue is better known by its nickname, Oscar. One popular myth around how the statue earned its name is that the Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, remarked the award resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy, however, didn’t officially adopt the nickname until 1939.
  • Oscar winners are chosen from 24 categories, including the well-known best picture, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, directing, original screenplay, adapted screenplay, cinematography, and much more.

Bill (No)

The Oscars' new diversity quotas are a disaster for films and filmmakers for many reasons. Firstly, awards should be based on merit, not arbitrary diversity purity tests. By imposing diversity quotas, Hollywood is placing conformance to its self-defined victim redress standards above the artistic content, directorial vision, performance capabilities of the cast, and the crew's craftsmanship and professionalism. It's a shockingly fascist, authoritarian intrusion into an artistic endeavor.

Secondly, filmmakers can't truthfully retrofit diversity on historical events (though some try); many award-winning films of the past could not meet these new standards. Some notable examples include: 1917, The Godfather, Casablanca, The Departed, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Sound of Music, and many other widely praised films. These new diversity limitations will drastically narrow the artistic scope of future movies.

Additionally, the rollout of these new diversity guidelines is a cynical move to polish Hollywood's image as being at the forefront of racial justice. In actuality, it's a transparently political move with no beneficial impact on the quality of its industry's output. Hollywood has been rocked by criticism since 2016 when the list of Acting award nominees was uniformly white. The diversity guidelines are clearly an attempt to shield Hollywood from future criticism that it isn't woke enough. Hollywood's capitulation to the prevailing winds of political victimology has had a chilling effect on the public's enthusiasm for its annual award show extravaganza. A reported 93% of Americans did not watch the most recent Oscars telecast. Hollywood's latest bow further into the progressive movement is certain to hasten this decline in popularity.

Stephen (Yes)

Diversity quotas knocked at Hollywood's door because films weren't representative of our nation. Our country is ethnically diverse, as around 40% of the population is non-White. You wouldn't know that from watching American films. In the last ten years, the Best Actor Nominees were 18% non-White; the Best Actress Nominees were 10% non-White; the Best Supporting Actor Nominees were 8% non-White, and the Best Supporting Actress Nominees were 20% non-White for an overall average of 14%. While these films largely take place in and portray people living in the US, the overall picture they're painting lacks the variety of color we have to offer. And this isn't even touching on the underrepresented groups of women, LGBTQ+, etc. The quotas put in place will assure a better representation of underrepresented groups. 

Filmmakers belonging to these groups benefit from having more chances to work on meaningful projects in what has been a predominantly white male industry. It's also advantageous for filmmakers who don't fall into these groups to have more experience working with people from different backgrounds. Stories and filmmaking alike can flourish amidst diverse voices contributing. Audiences will be enlightened by stories coming from new and unique voices that will no longer go unheard.

Many groups of people have had difficulty breaking into film industry positions on their own merit. Unfair patterns have perpetuated themselves for years; they won't change. Some may find these quotas patronizing, but like Affirmative Action, they're far from it. They're necessary to achieve some balance in an unbalanced industry. The film industry has unknowingly been hurting itself by keeping doors closed. Diversity quotas open every door, which will vastly improve the industry.

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