With the whole #OscarsSoWhite controversy growing with each passing day, fans and stars of several snubbed films are scratching their heads wondering why they were excluded. The one at the top of the list seems to be Straight Outta Compton, and the reason for their major snub has been up in the air — until now.
The folks over at Entertainment Weekly reached out to six Academy members to figure out exactly why the box office smash was slighted in the whitewashed nominations list.
Before we get into their comments, keep in mind that the Academy members, also known as the "Oscar voters," range in age from early 40s to late 60s and are all white and male.
The first to weigh in was a director in the group which consisted of figures from various branches of filmmaking. He mainly said what many have been assuming for years: the Academy is most likely lacking just as much diversity internally as it is externally.
"Nobody can accuse the Academy of being racist — but they can be accused of being out of touch with the younger generation," he said. "Straight Outta Compton is a masterpiece, probably the best biopic since Amadeus — but many if not most of the Academy can't fathom songs like 'F**k the Police.' I know many members who wouldn't even see the film because it represented a culture that they detest or, more accurately, they assume they detest."
The producer added to the director's point that folks just chose not to see it because of its polarizing message. "If we're being honest, my bet is most Academy members didn't see it," the producer said. "I think the older members, those in their 60s and 70s, didn't think it was a movie for them, and they didn't watch it."
The publicist broke everything down in numbers, saying that even if the film received a ton of votes, if none of them were "first-place votes," they basically didn't count: "We have no way of knowing why anything with a lot of support doesn't get in. Compton could have received 2,500 votes in the fourth or fifth slot, but if it doesn't have at least 350 first-place votes, it gets ignored."
The writer of the group, who thinks the film is brilliant, isn't even shocked that it wasn't fairly recognized, saying that the noms are usually always ridiculous. "I am never surprised about the nominations being ridiculous, because it's always silly," the writer said. I don't look at it as a fair judgment of anybody's work, so I don't actually care."
Rounding out the group are the editor and hyphenate, who think that, though the film was great, it just failed to grasp the Academy's interests. "I was really disappointed it didn't get in, but I think it's the system that's flawed," the editor said. "The Academy has increased its members by 20 percent in the last three years, but it's going to take a while to pay off."
The hyphenate, on the other hand, wasn't ashamed to say he pretty much wasn't checking for the film to begin with and forgot it even existed when the moment of truth came. "I'm embarrassed to say, I kind of forgot about it when it came time to vote," he said.
But he wants you to know he enjoyed a couple other snubbed films with African-American leads. "For the record, my son and I loved Creed too, and I did vote for it for a best picture nom," he said. "I also thought Idris Elba should have been nominated for Best Actor this year. And the amazing young actor Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation might also have deserved a nod. I'm sorry they were excluded."
Judging from these six Academy members' comments, the overall consensus seems to be that the film was just a bit too real for the demographic that made up the committee. What do you think of their words?
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(Photo: Universal Pictures)