Stephen King Addresses Controversial Oscars Comments, Says Awards Are "Rigged in Favor of White People"

Earlier this month, Stephen King ignited a backlash against him in response to comments he made about the Oscar nomination process, having now penned a longer editorial offering more insight into his thoughts, pointing out that he feels as though the entire nomination process is "rigged in favor of white people." The nominations themselves caused backlash, given how few women and people of color were nominated for any awards, with King pointing out that he didn't consider diversity to be a factor when deciding on nominations, instead focusing solely on quality. The limited number of characters on Twitter prevented him from addressing that, while quality is ideally the only factor in handing out awards, the organizations responsible don't reflect the same diversity as the works they are meant to reward.

"For answers to why some talented artists are nominated and some — such as Greta Gerwig, who helmed the astoundingly good new version of Little Women — are not, you might need to look no further than the demographic makeup of those who vote for the Academy Awards," King shared for The Washington Post. "It’s better than it was, certainly. Only eight years ago, 94% of the 5,700 voters were white, according to the Los Angeles Times, 77% were male, and 54% were more than 60 years old. This year, women make up 32% of voters (up only 1% from last year) and minority members equal 16% of the total."

He added, "Here’s another piece of the puzzle. Voters are supposed to look at all films in serious contention. This year, that would be about 60. There’s no way of checking how many voters actually do, because viewing is on the honor system. How many of the older, whiter contingent actually saw Harriet, about Harriet Tubman, or The Last Black Man in San Francisco? Just asking the question. If they did see all the films, were they moved by what they saw? Did they feel the catharsis that’s the basis of all that artists aspire to? Did they understand?"

The author went on to point out that he, like many of the members of the Academy, is "white, male, old, and rich." With much of the backlash he earned calling him out for speaking from a privileged position, this is his admission and acknowledgment of the fact, reiterating that he didn't think diversity should be a factor in the case of awards, but only in a "perfect world," which is not the current status of the Academy.

"The response reflects my overall attitude that, as with justice, judgments of creative excellence should be blind," the author pointed out. "But that would be the case in a perfect world, one where the game isn’t 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. 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."

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You can read King's full editorial over at The Washington Post.

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