Spike Lee Boycotting Oscars Over “Another All White Ballot”

Speaking out for more diversity in Hollywood, the Chi-Raq director received an Honorary Oscar last November at the Governors Awards, but today Spike Lee says he will not be attending the Academy Awards on February 28 because of “another all white ballot.”

No African-Americans were among the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress or Supporting categories in last week’s Oscar nominations. The absence of Straight Outta Compton for Best Picture, Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan, The Hateful Eight‘s Samuel L. Jackson and Concussion‘s Will Smith sparked dismay and the return of #OscarsSoWhite online. Additionally, Brit Idris Elba was not among the nominees for his Beasts Of No Nation performance.

In an all caps statement posted online this Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Do The Right Thing director slammed the “lilly white” state of the top Oscar nominations categories. As he had at the Governors Awards last fall, Lee also called out for change on the executive level. “As I see it,” wrote Lee today, “the Academy Awards is not where the ‘real’ battle is. It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ‘turnaround’ or scrap heap.”

Read Spike Lee’s full statement today here:

I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?

And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken.

As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White.

In a video posted online today, Jada Pinkett Smith also reiterated remarks she had made on the weekend about the absence of people of color in the Oscar nominations. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” said the Magic Mike XXL actress. “So, let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love, and let’s do us differently.” The actress also said she would not be attending or even watching the Oscars but gave a “good luck” to host Chris Rock. “I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you my friend,” she said.

      1. Don’t worry he has a reputation of acting like an idiot.
        Kinda of like a 5 yr old having a melt down at the supermarket.

      1. gee…..why is he such a hater? That’s not right Haters should be taught to be more accepting of differences of opinion, and skin color, and religions, and political position….Spike…stop being a hater and show your better self to the world. we love you.

        1. He isn’t a hater. His perspective is different than yours.

          I find it hard to believe that only one person of color, the director of The Revenant, was nominated. There were so many good performances from actors of color and there were good directors of color this year. I wonder what criteria the Academy members use to select nominations from among the best performances? Maybe nominations are based upon individual preferences.

          1. Your facts are way off. 23 people of color are nominated in 2016. In comparison to 2013 when 12 Years a Slave won, about 19 were nominated. The difference is in 2013, there were more in the upper categories (producing, writing, directing, acting) but this year there is only one (Inarritu) in those categories.

            Furthermore, since 2000, 52 nominations/20 wins went to Blacks, 70 nominations & 15 wins went to Hispanics and 107 nominations & 17 wins went to Asians. Did anyone compliment the Academy for this? No. This shows the intellectual ineptitude, insincerity and railroading thuggery of the easily-offended.

      1. You’re right. Time for the Feds to impose quotas on movies are written and produced by blacks. And then strict quotas on the number of nominees and winners.

      2. It’s easier to put demographic-specific TV shows on. People are more likely to give a black-centric show a chance when they can just press a button rather than drive and pay $15 for something they’ve never heard of.

        And for all their complaining, minorities don’t support their own independent cinema. How many black people saw “Middle of Nowhere?” And then they wonder why black directors can’t get funding for their own movies and complain about lack of diversity. If low-energy support for blacks on TV works, that’s where you’ll see them.

      3. Wow a stupid comment. There are plenty of diverse movies every year. And why do you only mention books? Do you mean books are the only place where we get movies from? lol

    1. And you would have a point if:

      A) Charlotte Rampling weren’t nominated
      B) The size of your clothing wasn’t based on choices you made
      C) Several Asians were anticipated to receive nominations over the last 2 years and won various critic circle awards but found themselves shut out of the Oscar nominated for a second year.

  1. It’s got more to do with demographics of the AMPAS voting membership than anything else although it’s obvious the minority stories are underserved and underdeveloped as a percentage of major studio slates. But when all the voters are old and white and you can’t vote unless you win an Oscar, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. How do you expect “Straight Outta Compton” to get nominated when 99% of the Academy voters never listened to NWA or even know who Eric Wright was?

    1. “How do you expect “Straight Outta Compton” to get nominated when 99% of the Academy voters never listened to NWA or even know who Eric Wright was?”

      Probably the same way 12 Years a Slave got won when some of the people who voted for it never even watched it.

        1. Sure you can. Who identifies with slaves other than blacks? There have been sleepers that win all of the time.

      1. There were some members of the academy who admitted not seeing 12 Years A Slave, but voted for it because it was the presumed winner.

    2. Real question is how do you assume a poorly directed movie like SOC will be nominated because it’s based on a great story. Huge NWA fan here, but it looked like crap.

      1. Hustle & Flow was nominated as was Terrence Howard. I can name tons of black actors/actresses nominated. Hell a black director just won two years ago.

    3. Bullshit. Plenty of white people watch all different kinds of movies, and it’s more than likely plenty voted for minorities. There are not lots of African-American craftsmen in the technical aspects of the industry. The federal government itself is investigating hiring practices.

      So, if there’s a fish scarcity, don’t complain when the chef doesn’t have it on the menu.

  2. What is it – 80 percent of the voters are white men – and over 60? This is why a Charlotte Rampling or an Emmanuelle Riva will NEVER WIN BEST ACTRESS. These guys vote for eye candy.

    Why are there only 24 women nominees this year? Why is there only one or two women cinematographers working?

    They will never vote for Sam Jackson in a Tarantino film because Tarantino is subversive – like Hitchcock. On the other hand, Concussion is a bad film, and Will Smith just wasn’t compelling enough because of the script.

    1. Agreed. There simply was no TWELVE YEARS, SELMA, RAY, DREAMGIRLS, or even THE COLOR PURPLE this year. CONCUSSION was no PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS by a long shot. There is it.

      1. Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren are anomalies – The Queen win was quite a while ago. Rampling and Riva are too European. I can’t see an older woman winning in the future.

        1. So apparently every example that doesn’t go along with what you wish were true was an “anomaly.”

          “Hey, Straight Outta Compton did well, why can’t executives see that there’s money to be made with blacks?”
          “Well Straight Outta Compton was an anomaly.”

          I see that argument going over so well.

          1. The Queen win was in 2006. Streep won because Weinstein campaigned. They are huge stars. Unlike you, I am in this business, and the vast majority of men Academy voters have aged and the voting results are reflected in their stodginess. This has been noted by many people.

    2. In his career, Tarantino has received five Oscar nominations and won twice. This year Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for her role in a Tarantino film. Sorry, but your conspiracy theory falls flat.

  3. Meanwhile, he’s getting an honorary Oscar specifically because he’s a black guy making “black people” movies. It sure wasn’t talent based.

    1. The great irony is that Spike Lee movies are about black people but for white people. Tyler Perry movies are for black audiences.

      1. That is not true. Spike Lee’s movies are enjoyed by African Americans. Tyler Perry’s movies are enjoyed by African Americans. There is room for both of them as far as black adult audiences are concerned. If white audiences enjoy Spike’s movies, great.

        1. How many black people supported Spike Lee’s films Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer, Oldboy & Da Sweet Blood of Jesus?

  4. Forty-six percent of the movie-going audience is Latino & Black. The studio execs have little respect for their audience. They don’t hire people of color behind the scenes or on camera.

    Screw Hollywood.

    1. exactly. boycott HOLLYWOOD, not the Oscars — which merely reflects it.

      they can’t nominate what doesn’t get made — although they also don’t nominate much that does get made because of its makeup.

      sad state of affairs.

      but instead of hyping on the oscars, make the image awards and the alma awards more important within the hollywood machine.

    2. Screw the audience. Go the People’s Choice Awards where numbskull people are represented. This is about good work. And since 2001, 51 African-Americans have taken nominations slots. And over 20 minorities are nominated for Oscars including those of Black, Hispanic/Brazilian, Asian, Pacific Islander & Arabic origin. Take the time and look up the nomination list, and check out the names.

    3. SHUT THE HELL UP….40% that 80% this, white black latino just shut up. NO one gives a shit. I don’t care what color an actor, director, writer is. I love movies and if it’s a good movie ti’s a good movie and if it isn’t it isn’t. Why label films as “black film” or “white film”, that’s so stupid. I’ve seen both and enjoyed many and a lot I don’t enjoy black or white. For crying out loud, everyone needs to just get the fuck over themselves.

  5. I don’t agree with a boycott because it paves the way for the Academy to try to correct itself with tokenism, which would be unfortunate; but I do appreciate Lee’s directing the attention to the lack of minority presence at the greenlight level. However I would dig a bit deeper, because the problem isn’t that Hollywood has refused to embrace diverse casting – they have at the global blockbuster level, where you have huge franchises like Star Wars, Fast & Furious, upcoming Justice League with diverse multiracial casts; it’s more of the fact that Hollywood has split into making two types of films, global tentpoles and Oscarbait, and basically at the end of the year Academy members are presented with a list of about twenty films which have been greenlit with no other goal than to win awards and nominations and that have had awards publicists from day one. So unfortunately these are the films that the Academy rewards, regardless of whether they’re diverse or not.

    1. There need to be more producing teams like Ice Cube & Dre & Will Packer. There are more today than ever before, but the whole process of finding “material” takes time. I’m sick of the biographies of Black musicians & singers….ENOUGH! How about a black person’s survivalist story? or how about a real Gangster type story like American Gangster?
      Black actors are crawling over “real” biography stories of past people. I would much prefer seeing a documentary about Miles Davis (which I have) than a fictionalized movie about him.

      1. Will Packer hired four white people to write the story of NWA…when Will Packer can’t bring himself to hire one African-American writer to work on his movie then he complains of the Academy not honoring black talent–its fresh…maybe he hired the best people for the job…and the Academy nominated who they felt were the strongest performances.

  6. Well look at the black females that have won over the past few years. Those roles were “A Diva” (Dreamgirls) “A Slave” (12 years a slave) “Welfare Cheat” (Precious)” and a maid “(The Help). These ladies deserved these awards but come-on Hollywood Black Women are more then just these types of roles

    1. That’s quite a good point, 3 of the past 6 best actress winners have been black. Sounds like black women are being over represented by the Oscars.

      1. Maybe the black women didn’t win or get nominated because they didn’t deserve to? Did that ever cross your quota-making, entitled mind? The Academy isn’t design to represent minorities or white people for that matter.

        Join the federal government in their investigation of Hollywood hiring practices, and bolster up the black community to produce educated, qualified craftsmen to get into industries because without that, every field will be dominated by whites.

    2. And black people get a lot more roles than just those, but there are certain types of films that are seen as “Awards Films” that are going to get the awards (12 Years a Slave), and certain types of films that aren’t (Ride Along 2). It’s has nothing to do with the specific roles but with certain types of movies being seen as more “important” than the other.

  7. Despite what one may think about Spike Lee he is a man of principle. Has he made some less than stellar films in his career? Absolutely. But so has Spielberg and Scorcese. So let’s not shoot the messenger here. There IS a diversity problem in Hollywood. Everyone knows it (and let’s not forget the talent agencies who are equally complicit) but those in a position to actually effect systematic change are unwilling to do so despite the shifting demographics right under their noses. Spike Lee’s absence will not make much of a ripple…however Chris Rock deciding to pull out as host along with Reginald Hudlin (co-Producer) would send a deafening message to the industry. But don’t hold your breath on that happening!

      1. Those that mean that when Latinos win, also do Asians and African Americans?
        Because in the past two years the best director has been Mexican, and probably this year too.
        Yeah, there is a diversity problem, but it’s been improving constantly. The real problem is that people want to find problem out of nowhere. The truth is that there weren’t as good performances by minorities this year as the people being nominated. I’m part of a minority and I don’t feel offended by this decision. It just makes me happy that good work is being produced each year.

    1. Please don’t mention Spike Lee in the same sentence with Spielberg or Scorcese… Almost lost my lunch on that.

  8. There are no more five nominees in each category (except Best Picture), so who would you bump, Spike? Who isn’t deserving? Or is less deserving than Michael B. Jordan or Ryan Coogler? DiCaprio? George Miller?

    1. Glad he is boycotting, sick of his prejudice self and he is very prejudice, just another boring angry black man wishing it was still the 60’s. Have a nice nap on your couch Spike, at least we don’t have to listen to you drone on about your “blackness” instead of your just being a “human”.

  9. If our projects can get funded you would see more Oscar-type films. I’ve attended all the AFM since 2013, presented presentations, celebrities attached, with worldwide distribution, etc and they say, “this is not for us”. Mohawk Salon Film , and the sequel “Rebirth of Crowning Glory”, “crossing over ISO love”, “HOOD FOOD , We are on IMDBPro. So if you have any clout and feel “well lets see if any of these project are Oscar-worthy” … reach out! Love, Peace & Happiness

    1. How many black people came out to see Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere? Or films like it? Not very much, and then you complain about nobody financing it? I wouldn’t either. There’s no money in it. People don’t go into business to support diversity. They go into it to make money.

      The other problem is, you’re spending too much time begging the white man for something. You’re only going to get his spare change. Just enough to keep you where you are. Band together like a community and build it up from the ground. It’s what Gordon Parks and Melvin van Pebbles did, and they get no credit from the younger black generation.

  10. So are people of color supposed to be given awards just for the sake of the color of their skin? Not their accomplishments? That’s what I’m reading. I’m so sick of the entitlement attitude. When black actors don’t receive nominations – oh, hell breaks out and of course talk about boycotts, because it must be racist. Did it ever occur to him that perhaps, just perhaps, they weren’t that good, and that’s why they didn’t receive nominations?

    1. You are exactly right. I haven’t heard about any one raving about a black actor this year, why? Because there are none. Must we pick a black only because he/she is black. Regardless of the fact that they are not talented enough this year to be nominated. Sorry Spike only the best tuna are picked not just the black ones.

  11. Bye Lee and while your at it stop making movies altogether. Tired of your stupid films and constant whining.

    1. Agree. Lee has made a couple of OK films, with a limited perspective and a wooden style. He has made others that are unwatchable except by the “so bad it’s good” crowd. Every Lee film I’ve seen is burdened with stereotypical characters, unimaginative camera work and ploddingly obvious plot lines. Anyone who could screw up a natural like “Malcolm X” deserves nothing. I’d like to see somebody make a Spike Lee biopic. We could call it “Mediocrity Unbound.”

  12. So I’m sure Spike will be returning that Honorary Oscar, right?

    What’s that? He’s not?

    All tube sock, no foot.

  13. Spike Lee has not had a relevant thought or movie since DO the right thing…which was overshadowed by Boys n the Hood, a much tighter movie with more emotional impact. Too bad being Michael Jordan’s Hype man was a longer lasting gig, Hunh Spike?

  14. Talent based. Not race based.

    So actors such as Leonardo deCaprio is an A lister who has paid his dues. So
    Is Michael Fassbender. The rest are talented, hard working actors.

    If the Oscar level talent is not there. It is not there. Face reality.

    1. I would trade Fassbender’s nomination for Michael B. Jordan. I had a much more emotionally charged response to Creed than Steve Jobs and I credit most of that to the powerful performance by Michael B. Jordan.

  15. Wy not just put in various quotas for all main categories , so there will be limited issues in the future

  16. It seems pretty ironic that we are pummeled with racist comments against whites when blacks aren’t nominated just because they are black. Look in the mirror before you start publicly yelling that “old whites” are racist because they didn’t vote for your favorite black artist. I would like to see the empirical scientific studies that show that, whatever the representation is in the population, that that must be the representation in every industry and particularly award shows. The premise is unproven.

    Having said that — if there aren’t enough stories being produced that are reflective of black America because they are not “in the room” choosing the stories to be put to film, then start your own companies or get more people in the room.

    But lets stop just assuming that white people are racist just because they are white. That is racist,

  17. So…Talent has nothing to do with it!!! I am going to Boycott Spike Lee and every other idiot who thinks like him

  18. Now, if he could only boycott the human race. We have allowed racists (like Lee), to have elevated dialogue in the Media, perpetuating and stoking racism. Why?

  19. Really. What has this little Mr. Lee done since his quaint yet forgettable pizza movie that would warrant such an inflated attitude? Try being colour blind toward the Oscars and realize that deep down these awards are just a pat on the back to those who feel they need one from those who wish they had one. It’s the people who take the time out of their lives to watch your effort that truly count. Respect them.

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