Author Stephen King drew a host of criticism in January after seeming to dismiss the lack of diversity and women among the most prominent Academy Award nominees — one person of color in the four acting categories and no women directors.
“I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” King wrote on Twitter.
The backlash was immediate, including from director Ana DuVernay who said King’s remarks were “backward and ignorant.”
King walked back his comments in an op-ed published Monday in the Washington Post where he described the annual film awards as “rigged in favor of the white folks.”
“Creative excellence comes from every walk, color, creed, gender and sexual orientation, and it’s made richer and bolder and more exciting by diversity, but it’s defined by being excellent,” King wrote.
“Judging anyone’s work by any other standard is insulting and — worse — it undermines those hard-won moments when excellence from a diverse source is rewarded (against, it seems, all the odds) by leaving such recognition vulnerable to being dismissed as politically correct.”
King added that the added diversity in the Academy’s membership in the wake of the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite controversy was “not even within shouting distance of good enough.”
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is trying — in a stumbling fashion far too slow for the Age of Apple and Facebook — to make changes,” King wrote. “Give them credit for trying to catch up .\u2009.\u2009. but not too much credit.”
The Academy’s nearly 9,000 members still skews mostly white and male. Women only make up 32% of the Academy’s membership and an even smaller percentage (16%) are minorities.
King concludes by citing some of the works from minorities and women he liked from last year and saying in a more equal world the nominees would only be judged on their creative merit.
“We don’t live in that perfect world, and this year’s less-than-diverse Academy Awards nominations once more prove it. Maybe someday we will. I can dream, can’t I? After all, I make stuff up for a living.”
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