In an official statement called “Academy Aperture 2025,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson has announced new efforts to increase diversity in the film community, including plans for a more inclusive Oscar race.
“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Hudson said in a statement. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
To this end, “the Academy and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) are creating a task force of industry leaders “to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31, 2020.”
Right away I asked myself “what exactly will this mean”?
More Academy members of color and different cultures, one presumes, but what else?
Are we talking about some kind of new Hays Code, only this time focusing on racial inclusion and positive messaging rather than matters of sexual behavior and violence and immorality, which sparked the establishment of conservative depiction standards in films starting in ‘34 and lasting until ‘66 or ’67?
Inclusion standards in terms of what? Subject matter? As in “stories that don’t reflect or represent positive attitudes and dynamics about ethnicity vs. whiteness”?
Are we talking about the Academy approving or otherwise supporting the hiring of persons of color in the casting of films and miniseries and whatnot? Are we talking about refusing Oscar recognition if this or that film doesn’t feature a certain percentage of characters of color in the stories being told?
Are we talking about a new industry-wide standard that might result in films like Mank, set in the early 40s and concerned largely with white characters, being vaguely frowned upon?
I’m just thinking out loud but what would “new representation and inclusion standards” actually mean?
A couple of hours ago I asked a couple of Academy spokespersons for some specific clarification…crickets.
Journo pally #1: “Yes, you should ask all these questions, publicly. Representing those of us who can’t.”
Journo pally #2: “All very good questions about a clear move to restore the kind of rules and censorship many of us worked very hard to sweep away in the late ’60 and early ‘70s. The days of ‘anything goes’ are coming to a close. Look at the banning of Gone With the Wind. Is everyone so delicate they can’t look at things made in the past under different circumstances and put them in historical perspective?”