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Published On: Tue, Jan 19th, 2016

Will Smith, Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith to boycott Oscars

The backlash against this year’s Academy Award nominations escalated Monday with announcements by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith that they would boycott the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony, citing the absence of people of black in all four acting categories for the second year in a row.

“It has such high ratings most years, so the image of Hollywood that the academy presents is at stake,” said Ana-Christina Ramón, assistant director and associate researcher at UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Ramon noted that the academy strives to present an image of diversity, an image that could be jeopardized by a boycott.

“People will take notice,” she said. “Even when they’re not nominated, minority actors are trotted out. They try to show diversity among presenters.”

“I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement released Monday night. “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big change.”

She added that the academy would be taking “dramatic steps” to alter the makeup of its membership and to accelerate diversity efforts.

Lee’s decision to skip the Oscars had an extra sting because the academy recently bestowed the director with an honorary Oscar in November for his career work, which includes such racially charged movies as Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X.

He posted on his Instagram account that he and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, won’t be at the ceremony. Lee demanded to know “how is it possible for the [second] consecutive year all 20 contenders in the acting category are white?”

He added: “For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different.”

spike-lee-do-the-right-thing

Spike Lee to boycott Oscars

His announcement came shortly after a Facebook video from Pinkett Smith in which the actress said she would not attend or watch the Oscars this year. Pinkett Smith, wife of Concussion actor Will Smith, said the academy has the right to acknowledge and invite whomever it chooses, but leaving black actors “begging for acknowledgment” diminishes the community. “We are a dignified people,” she said.

Will Smith, who doesn’t appear in the video, wasn’t nominated for Concussion.

 

Lee’s Instagram message said that he “means no disrespect” to Oscars host Chris Rock and producer Reginald Hudlin or to academy President Boone Isaacs.

He said the root of the problem lies in the industry’s failure to give people of color more opportunities to make films.

“As I see it,” the New York-based director wrote, “the Academy Awards is not where the ‘real” battle is. It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ‘turnaround’ or [the] scrap heap.”

\Lee declined to comment beyond his Instagram post.

The recent Bunche Center study, released last year, film studio heads were 94% white and all male and that film studio senior management was 92% white and 83% male.

The boycotts by Lee and Pinkett Smith are a “good thing because it draws more attention to the issue,” the center’s director, professor Darnell Hunt, said Monday. “To have prominent figures … to go on the record to lodge their outrage with business as usual keeps it in the conversation.”

Last year, the #oscarssowhite hashtag took off after David Oyelowo was snubbed for his turn as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, and the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, also failed to score a nomination.

Jada Pinkett Smith Fish Mooney Gotham photo

Jada Pinkett Smith is taking a stand against the Oscars

Jada Pinkett Smith is taking a stand against the Oscars

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  1. Stacey Dash talks Oscars racism, boycott, Black History Month - HOLLYWOOD NEWS UPDATEHOLLYWOOD NEWS UPDATE says:

    […] on Fox & Friends, the Clueless actress said it’s “ludicrous” that celebrities like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting this year’s Oscars ceremony over the nominees’ lack of […]

  2. Danny DeVito, Don Cheadle talk ‘racist’ America after Oscar snubs - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced significant changes to its voting procedures in an attempt to curtail the accusations of racism and lack of diversity with this with this year’s Oscar nominees. […]

  3. Stacey Dash talks Oscars racism, boycott, Black History Month - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] on Fox & Friends, the Clueless actress said it’s “ludicrous” that celebrities like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting this year’s Oscars ceremony over the nominees’ lack of […]

  4. Luigi says:

    Good, Jada! You ungrateful witch. You and Spike can stay home, eat BBQ ribs and watch BET. This stunt ruined your chances at ever being cast in Hollywood again. We’ll give your seat at the Oscars to someone more grateful for their Tinsel Town success. Let’s just hope your embarrassment doesn’t ruin your husband’s career too. Will Smith never got nominated for an Emmy for “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” but he always got a fat paycheck. He never cried and today he’s worth $260 Million thanks to Hollywood so STFU. Go stand up for a better cause like feeding hungry kids in Africa instead of your EGO!

  5. Tyler Perry talks ‘Ninja Turtles 2’ and racism in Oscar voting - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Perry also had some interesting thoughts on concerns over diversity in the Academy Awards – now boycotted by Spike Lee, Will Smith, his wife Jada… […]

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