Spurred on by the “#OscarsSoWhite” progressive Twitter pile-on of 2015 and catalyzed during the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, the Academy Awards has implemented revised Oscar eligibility criteria to include mandated diversity requirements — and the list is quite something to behold.
On-screen “at least one of the lead actors must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group,” the new rules state. “30% of actors in secondary roles be from underrepresented groups such as LGBT+ and people with cognitive or physical disabilities,” and the plot must “center around an underrepresented group.”
Off-screen “the leading producers must have at least two members from an underrepresented group on their staff,” and “six members of the crew/technical team must be from those same underrepresented groups,” and “senior executives on the film must also meet certain thresholds for those underrepresented groups.”
The rules even extend to interns! Productions must have “at least two interns from underrepresented groups, and those opportunities must be prioritized” over those in properly represented groups.”
How will all of this be enforced? With a literal checklist.
Movies will need to submit an “Academy Inclusion Standards form” for major award consideration. And that’s not all: the Diversity Police will also be on the case — the Academy will conduct spot checks and interviews to ensure producers aren’t fudging the numbers on their forms.
It’s estimated that of the 95 Best Pictures in the history of the Oscars, over half would not qualify under these new diversity thresholds. Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music, The Godfather, Star Wars, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Schindler’s List all would have been ineligible for top honors. Even recent critically acclaimed movies such as 1917 and The Irishman wouldn’t make the cut.
“Anything that interrupts the creative process is a potential problem,” film critic and founder of Hollywood in Toto Christian Toto (pictured) told the New Tolerance Campaign. “Some stories may be perfect for an Oscar-worthy presentation, but they may not be told because they don’t align with the approved narratives. We may see an artificial uptick in diversity numbers, but does that include other groups marginalized by Hollywood — conservatives and Christians? Why don’t they get special protection given how they’re ignored or maligned within show business?”
Conservatives aren’t the only ones skeptical of the Academy’s new mandates. Richard Dreyfuss, known for his roles in Jaws and American Graffiti, (two movies that also wouldn’t make the cut today) said the new standards “make him want to vomit.”
Others haven’t been as outspoken. “Actors are very afraid to speak out against the new diversity rules,” Toto said. “The New York Post’s story on the subject had several industry critics but no one shared their name. Fear is very powerful in Hollywood, and if you’re suspected of being critical of aggressive diversity measures there will be consequences.”
All of it makes one wonder: If only some movies receive Oscar consideration, can any objectively be called “Best Picture”?