The British Oscars Face Backlash Because All Winners Were White

February 23, 2023   |   Tags:
The British Oscars Face Backlash Because All Winners Were White

Authored by Rajan Laad via,

Recently, the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards received praise because their nominees fulfilled the diversity criteria.

The BBC reported that performers belonging to ethnic minorities were almost 40% of acting nominees.

Back in 2016 “diversity and inclusion criteria” were introduced into the eligibility requirements for the 2019 Film Awards.

The BAFTA boasted that it was the first major awards body to initiate such steps and that it proved their “determination to take a leading role in driving a more inclusive industry.” 

BAFTA worked with the BFI (British Film Institute) to introduce BFI Diversity Standards for two categories: Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.

The BAFTA’s website explained the requirements to qualify under the new nomination system:

In order to meet the standards, productions must demonstrate that they have worked to increase the representation of under-represented groups in two of the four following areas:

  • On-screen representation, themes, and narratives

  • Project leadership and creative practitioners

  • Industry access and opportunities

  • Opportunities for diversity in audience development

In other words, if a struggling British filmmaker made a great film on a shoestring budget seeking financial assistance and help from his friends, he would not be nominated, unless he satisfied the “diversity” criterion.

On the other hand, British film producers will see these criteria as a shortcut to receiving nominations. Their focus will be on satisfying the diversity criterion rather than cinematic excellence.

But despite the aggressive push by BAFTA in 2016, things didn’t quite work out — all 20 nominees turned out to be White in 2020.

The 2020 winner for best actor Joaquin Phoenix chose to virtue signal in his acceptance speech that the industry must work hard to “truly understand systemic racism.”

If Phoenix really wanted to protest, he would have asked the BAFTA to remove his name from the nominations. But instead, he attended the gala, received his award, and ended it with an act of tokenism knowing it would elevate his standing without any work.

But 40% of the nominees in 2023 were from ethnic minority groups, which earned the BAFTA copious bouquets.

But the bouquets turned to brickbats when none of these ethnic minority nominees won any awards.

The Guardian reported it as follows:

“Bafta’s all-white winners' lineup is shocking – it needs to learn diversity is more than just statistics”.

The BBC reported it as follows:

“The Bafta Awards have come under fire after all the winners at its film ceremony on Sunday were white.”

It is obscene that the race of individuals would be referred to in such a manner in current times.

The following were some of the reactions in Britain.

Similar claims are also being made on the other side of the Atlantic as well.

Weeks ago, the writer and director for the film Till, Chinonye Chukwu, accused Hollywood of racism and sexism when her film failed to earn nominations.

So let’s look at the fundamentals of these awards.

Firstly, it is impossible for these awards to be totally fair because in judging works of art there is subjectivity.

How does one compare a brilliant western, to a poignant human drama, to a masterful sci-fi epic; then decide which one is the best?

The same goes for every aspect of filmmaking including acting.

Al Pacino’s performance as Michael Corleone in the first two films of The Godfather series was masterful.

At the beginning of the first film, Pacino conveys a childlike naivety, he has a light-hearted demeanor and is talkative. But life thrusts Michael into the forefront of a brutal gang war after the deaths of his father and older brother. By the end of the second film, Michael has devolved into a cold-blooded fiend who has no compunction ordering hits on relatives and friends.

Portraying this gradual descent into darkness was challenging because as Michael hardens up, he becomes reticent, rarely demonstrating his emotions or thoughts.

It was the way Pacino delivered his rare lines. It was his piercing gaze and his clenched jaw that conveyed his initial reluctance, the internal conflict which finally turned into cold steely determination. He expressed it all without saying anything at all and that was his brilliance.

Yet Pacino in The Godfather lost the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Joel Grey in Cabaret in 1973 and to Art Carney in Harry and Tonto in 1974 when he was nominated for Best Actor for The Godfather Part II.

In the fifty years since, Pacino’s Corleone is still regarded as among the most memorable film characters. Nobody remembers even the names of those who won against him.

But this proves the limitations of the awards.

If that wasn’t enough, studios began running elaborate and vicious campaigns for awards almost threatening members to vote for their films.

The now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein pioneered this practice.

His campaign caused Shakespeare In Love to win the Best Picture Oscar at the 71st Academy Awards, over the much superior and critically-favored Saving Private Ryan.

The campaign was like an investment because it caused Shakespeare In Love to become a huge box office hit.

Weinstein managed back-to-back Best Picture wins for The King’s Speech in 2010 and The Artist in 2011.

All of these were good films, but they were by no means brilliant.

Recently, British Actress Andrea Riseborough became the center of controversy following her leading role nomination for the indie drama To Leslie. Many accused Riseborough of misusing her connections to gain an advantage. It even led to a probe, but she was cleared.

So what happens when “diversity” is forced onto this ridiculous charade?

The awards that are already losing value are rendered meaningless.

When people of ethnic minorities win, they are often lauded not for their performance but for being the first from that demographic group to win the award. This is an insult because human endeavors and efforts are overlooked.

This ludicrous emphasis on race and ethnicity led actor Idris Elba to say that he no longer wants to be identified as a “Black actor” and that he wants his talent to be recognized regardless of his race.

Sidney Poitier was acclaimed for his myriad performances. He rose to the top solely on his talents. He received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his work Lilies of the Field (1963). This was a time segregation was still legal in some parts of the U.S.

Poitier was a brilliant actor.

Poitier’s race had nothing to do with his talent.

Back to the awards.

You cannot end discrimination against one group by discriminating against another.

The only way to end discrimination is to remove all barriers, allow all to compete freely, and let the best rise to the top.

Merit should be the only criterion.

This is how awards should function.

But it looks like matters may have reached a point of no return.

Recently there have been calls for gender neutral awards.

Perhaps the insanity will have to reach critical mass before any change can occur.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/23/2023 - 03:30