Hollywood, a company town that loves the sound of political correctness if not the reality of equality, has for six weeks been turned upside down by accusations of institutional racism after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate a single minority actor for the second year in a row.
Even if this is – as some have argued – an accident of bad timing, the tradition-bound institution has sleep-walked into the diversity issue in the midst of a neurotic, election-year referendum on the nation’s first black president.
The Academy has reacted. Since the #OscarsSoWhite dispute over diversity and racial representation broke out in January, it has taken steps to even out representation at the body. New rules, announced at the end of January, include a commitment to double the number of women and ethnic minority members of the Academy by 2020.
But will this be enough to reform the Oscars and could tonight’s ceremony be the last “white” version of the famous awards ceremony? The problems may be more deep-rooted than that, in an entire industry where decision-makers are overwhelmingly male and white.