Danny DeVito On Oscars Diversity Controversy: “We Are A Bunch Of Racists”

While on the scene at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, Danny DeVito took a moment to comment on the tinderbox subject diversity in the entertainment industry, and the actor-producer didn’t mince words at all. Bluntly attributing the lack of diversity in Hollywood and subsequently in awards-recognized films to systemic racism, he said that “it’s unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country.” He also noted that it’s just one instance in which “even though some people have given really great performances in movies, they weren’t even thought about. We’re living in a country that discriminates, and has certain racist tendencies.” He goes on from there, and you can watch the whole thing above.

The video also features Don Cheadle and Sam Neill weighing in on the matter. Cheadle echoed similar comments he made last night after the screening of his Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead. “I applaud [The Academy’s] attempt to do something about it, which is great, but again,” he said, “this is dealing with the symptom and not starting at the root cause, how we even get to results like this.” Meanwhile, Neill was somewhat more diplomatic and self deprecating, but said that he is “baffled” by this year’s nominees. “I would have thought that Idris Elba and Sam Jackson would have been a shoo-in for nominations.”

The comments come amid a continuing firestorm stemming from the near total lack of nonwhite nominees for this year’s Academy Awards. The near total snubbing of Straight Outta Compton and the fact that neither Creed director Ryan Coogler nor its star Michael B. Jordan received nominations has been a particular sticking point, with calls from the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee for a boycott of the 2016 ceremony. The Academy responded to these criticisms yesterday with the announcement of a huge overhaul of membership rules designed to increase the number of women and minority voters in the academy.

  1. If we all could just admit

    That we are racist a little bit

    Even though we all know that it’s wrong

    Maybe it would help us get along

  2. Pffft. Sober up, Danny. PC is dead and cries of ‘diversity’ are so 1970’s… like Hillary Clinton’s wardrobe. The Academy Awards are nothing more than a televised sales meeting and only draw interest because it has been around the longest. Televise it in July and nobody would watch. And those in the biz know the morning after everybody who’s anybody moves on to jockeying at Cannes.

  3. Someone needs to demand that anyone making these foolish comments follow up with stating who should not have gotten nominated in order to make room for the individuals or movies that were left off. True, Idris was overlooked. But how can anyone prove it’s due to racism? Creed was not Oscar worthy nor was SOC– which was a chronology with no arc and no narrative, nor was will Smith’s performance. SJ probably got overlooked because it was a QT movie and not that great. But you can say same for Kurt Russel. Matt Damon was not deserving but I don’t think it’s because he’s white. The biggest oversight? BDT– but none of the sensitive elite so far seem concerned about the Latin.

  4. It’s only La La Land libs that are spouting this nonsense. What’s even more hysterical is thinking these “discussions” will help race relations. All it is doing is making things worse.

  5. Every year great performances go un-nominated. But if the person who didn’t get nominated is white, it’s called a “snub.” And there are snubs every year. But apparently, if the person snubbed is black… it’s racism.

    You know who’s racist? People who think that snubs are racism. Stop using skin color as a reason to demand preferential treatment.

      1. So what? Maybe there just weren’t any plausible black contenders to nominate. Don’t be so paranoid.

        1. The best actor in any movie I saw all year, was the kid in Beasts of no nation. Hands down, better than idris, Leo, Damon, everyone. And if you can’t see or tell that, then maybe you are no judge of talent. And it’s not just African Americans that struggle with Diversity in Hollywood, but it IS African Americans that are willing to speak up about it. So when people change it to a race issue, they forget that within the scope of diversity you have Asian Americans, Latino and Latina Americans, Native Americans, Veterans, Women, Elderly Americans as Well as people with disabilities. So just because people of African American heritage are on the forefront asking for changes, does not mean those changes only affect of benefit themselves. How many female directors or editors or screenwriters are nominated this year? How many Latino americans. Yeah… If I was you Tom or Largo and everyone looked like me or the entire world revolved around me, I guess I wouldn’t see a problem either. #lookinthemirror, take a long hard look, then speak.

        2. Yes.. Because we’re only Oscar worthy when we play slave roles…or “the help”… Your inability to even SEE the problem IS a large part of the problem!! #waketfup

  6. Jersey Pictures (DeVito’s company), produces lots of stuff. I’d be curious to find out how many roles he has given to people of color and how many scripts he’s bought, or writers he’s hired or directors he employs who are hispanic, or African Americans. Look if Danny Devito is a racist (as his lack of diversity hiring and casing would suggest), then fine, but he shouldn’t go painting all of the rest of us with the same broad brush to hide his own failures.

  7. Right on, Sam Neill. Absolutely right. Samuel L. Jackson should have been a shoo-in nominee for Hateful 8. Sad and shocking.

    1. Not shocking at all! Samuel L. Jackson was FAR from a shoe-in, especially in Tarantino’s least critically movie in quite a while. Where’s Tom Hanks? Where’s Johnny Depp? Where’s Steve Carrell? And I would have put Jordan ahead of Jackson anyway.

  8. This thing about who is “the best” is rather subjective. We watched The Martian on DVD last night, and Matt Damon’s performance blew me away… Maybe we should do away with the Oscar club & just let the public vote by internet…of course that might lead to results that let only “box office” rule…

  9. I am shocked!! I truly believe that if there was any wrong doing the nominees and winners would have said some thing, I have not heard anything from the winners whom I believe to be of good character and would not stand for it! Saying we are all racist is incorrect, discriminatory maybe but not everyone! The problem is you fight for equality then scream for special treatment well which is it?? We have all fought our struggles and battles to get through life…If you dont want to be excluded dont exclude others!!!

  10. The REAL story in all this, is the paranoid hyper race sensitive state of people, and the eagerness of the media to not only turn away from the bottom line subject matter just stated, but to purposely look away from it in order to fuel the news making ignorance that it takes to literally try and force an award granting group to include a certain race- just because they feel left out!

    Someone said to me that they would nominate blacks more if they played more slaves in movies… So I took a look at the wiki list of black nominees and winners of the past and guess what I found…

    Zero slave roles have been nominated, or won Oscars.

    Perhaps they’re referring to the portrayal of Solomon Northrop in 12 years a Slave… But Mr. Northrop, was not as slave. He was born a free man, was a professional musician a land owner and ultimately an author- who was abducted and held in slavery for 12 years. He was NOT a slave.

    But the movie WAS incredible and so it was noticed by the Academy.

    This is all to point out the hypocrisy and revisionist point of view some people have when they accuse a group of racism simply because they can with the help of media and followers ready to point angry fingers.

    When in reality, there’s been diversity. But it’s been for better works of art.

    1. I will help you (These are just the people who immediately popped into my head after I read your comment::
      – Hattie McDaniel (won 1939) for her role as Mammie, a slave
      – Denzel Washington (won 1989) for his role as Trip, a former slave
      – Lupita Nyong’o (won 2013) for her role as Patsey, a slave
      I assume that Solomon Northrup titled his memoir “12 Years A Slave” because he felt that during those 12 years, he WAS a slave, so your interpretation of his history is limited at best…

      The whole slave/gangster thing comes from the kinds of roles the Academy seems to appreciate seeing Black people play; granted, it’s not a rule (like the saying that playing someone ugly, mentally challenged, or a victim of the Holocaust will get you nominated), but the overall history of the award suggests certain preferences (seriously, they thought Denzel’s leading role in Training Day was superior to those in Malcolm X, The Hurricane and Philadelphia??).

      It’s clear that you are not familiar with some of the years of disappointment and protest from Black artists, who have been visibly snubbed by the Oscars. While lots of artists are snubbed, the percentage of Black contributions that have been nominated+awarded vs snubbed seems monumental compared to similar percentages among white artists (The Color Purple, Fruitvale Station, A Raisin in the Sun, Robert Guenveur Smith, ?!?!), Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee [zero nominations until 2007] Djimon Hounsou in Amistad, Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing nor Malcolm X!!!! among others), John Singleton, sooo many more…)

      Honestly, as the Academy itself probably realizes, this controversy brings attention to a proceeding that has been losing popularity/viewership for years — “Any press is good press.”

    2. So how do you explain that not one black person was nominated for anything for 2 years in a row? Do you really believe there are no black actors whose performance was worth even a nomination? Could the fact that those who make the decisions are 90% white have anything to do with who gets nominated?

      1. They didn’t suddenly decide to become racist for two seasons in a row recently. It’s just a coincidence. There simply weren’t many non-white contenders these past few seasons and the rest weren’t just democratically selected. Why is that SO hard to believe?

        1. All actors are part of Club Hollywood. They are lucky to be part of this elite group in the first place. All actors in this club are on a team and they are ACTORS doing the same type of job. They should not be divided in terms of their color. You don’t tell people you’re a black actor or a white actor. You say that you’re simply an actor.

          This whole boycott is only causing divide and pointing to a group of whiny cry babies using threat tactics to get their way. They happen to be black this time, but they could also be older women or kids or star pets or short men or fat actors. I don’t like the bullying tactics used here.

          Di Vito’s generalizations about ALL Americans is reprehensible. The Academy votes for “whom the Oscar goes” and not the general population. He is just promoting another hateful platform.

    3. So, a free man taken into captivity and forced to work doing slave labor is not a slave? That is, pretty much, the definition of slavery. That’s what happened to a bunch of free Black people brought from Africa.

  11. Remember those great Christmas fights your aunt would have with your uncle? Drunk on all the turkey and eggnog, everyone would pick a side and weigh in with opinions that ranged from ludicrously offensive to insane. The Internet enables millions of people to jump in on a pointless fight every single day.
    So now for me to jump in: surely the real solution to Oscar racism is to have every actor in every movie perform wearing gloves, and with a paper bag over their head? Only then will voters be truly colour blind.

  12. Anyone who tunes into the academy awards thinking they mean anything anymore are dillusional! There are so many great performances from so many great actors that narrowing down the performance to even 10 is insulting! The Oscars are a farce and should have ended a long time ago! I mean they still treat horror and comedy as the red head step child. The meaning of those golden statues died a long time ago!

  13. I would have thought that Carol would have been a shoo-in for a BP nomination. A film that was leagues above SOC or BONN, but no one cares since its cast is whiter than white.

  14. I wonder if it’s ever occurred to self-absorbed Hollywood types that awarding “oscars” to each other is immaterial to the larger American population? Hollywood’s opinions don’t matter even a little bit, and if minority actors want to, maybe they should set up their own awards.

  15. Danny DeVito, drunk again?…
    How many Asian or Chinese people were offended and are speaking out? American Indians? Greeks, Monks, Italiano’s??>>> The list goes on. Get a grip and move on. Just because you weren’t nominated… this isn’t a “have to be fair to everyone” type of arena. IT’S THE OSCARS!!! dumbasses…

  16. Wow great article explaining some of the black actors and directors getting snubbed. This truly opens my eyes up to what’s going on with the Academy. I really hope they do something about this since credit needs to be spread all along the spectrum of great performances. Michael B. Jordan and Ryan coogler how could they be overlooked? Great acting and directing. Also this doesn’t have to be a black vs white issue this can open up discussion about all races and fair treatment to everyone in the Screen Actors Guild…

    1. How could they be overlooked? Here’s a simple explanation:

      Five other people were simply better! It’s not like their rivals weren’t critically acclaimed either!

  17. Movies are entertainment,actors are living in a fantacy world thinking there voice is even important.A couple hundred yrs.ago they would’ve been court jestures.
    Lol They are actors peeps overpaid spoiled lil brats.

  18. Admitting to being a racist is fine now work hard to change it by starting with being conscience and fair to all.

  19. The only way to properly boycott Hollywood is not watch and spend $15 hard earn dollars to their movies and prevent them from screening their movies to another countries specially the in colored countries..

  20. To make some asinine quota we’re supposed to overlook a great movie/actor!? Stop whining. Reverse racism is just as prevalent. The NAACP & BET awards are rascist..white ppl don’t whine about them. Get over it! Boycott the Oscars. No one gives a crap. Make a great movie & the Oscars will come. Make crappy movies & nobody cares. People of ALL races are sick of the racism cry. It’s really getting old.

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