#OscarsSoWhite — five years ago this viral hashtag spread in reaction to the Academy Awards awarding all twenty of their acting nominations to solely white actors and actresses. It occurred once again in 2016 when, to no surprise, the list of acting nominations was only handed out to white people, leading to even further outrage over the lack of initiative the Academy took after the multitude of responses from the general public asking for better representation of people of color.
Over its almost 93 year history, the Oscars has only nominated seven Latin American, six African American, and two Asian filmmakers for the Best Director Award. In addition, only five female directors have been nominated for the award with one ever winning. Although Hollywood has taken recent initiatives after social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo to include and promote its more diverse members, many still criticize and point out that POC is nominated as a form of tokenism rather than true talent.
This issue was prominent last year when the Oscars snubbed Lupita Nyong’o for “Us,” Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers,” Awkwafina for “The Farewell” and “Dolemite is My Name,” and many other actors and films celebrating non-white people. Instead, they chose Cynthia Ervo, the only Black and POC actor nominated that year, for a movie about Harriet Tubman as a reminder to audiences that non-white films are only masterpieces when they are about racism and slavery. Many felt that the Oscars handed “Parasite” the big awards of the night to pacify the justified overwhelming backlash and outrage of its nominations. Still, it was not enough as it made it seem as though the movie won because it was South Korean rather than it being an excellent film.
One of the main controversies this year follows the award exclusions of the film “Minari.” “Minari” is a movie that follows a Korean family and their move from urban California to rural Arkansas as they try to achieve the idolized American Dream. The title comes from a common Korean plant, minari, that the Yi family later plants at their new home. To no surprise, the movie received critical acclaim with a 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a 91% audience approval rate because of how the meaning of the story allows a lot of people to share a commonality of endured struggles. It relates to many immigrant families in the U.S. who have faced issues with assimilating into a country of xenophobia, which is ironic as America is a nation founded by immigrants. However, as the list of award nominations slowly rolls out, the Golden Globes has proven once again that Hollywood does not care about representation in films.
Because the movie did not fulfill the 50% English language requirement, “Minari” was nominated for Best Foreign Language rather than Best Picture. Even though “Inglourious Basterds” equally failed to fulfill the 50% requirement, it was still up for Best Picture. How can a movie about the American Dream by an American director, produced by an American film company, with a majority American cast be any less American than a WWII film whose cast and setting was mainly European? Additionally, Steven Yeun, an American actor, and Youn Yuh-Jung, a South Korean actress, were snubbed from Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress despite being highly praised, while seventeen British and European actors and actresses were still nominated.
“Minari” is one of many examples shunned by a white-dominated industry that fails to recognize that the majority of its consumers and audiences lack representation within the media. Although the Golden Globes is currently part of a minority of associations to exclude “Minari” from prominent awards, Hollywood must do better to keep up its part of promoting inclusivity and diversity; otherwise it will slowly lose its prevalence and trust among viewers.