The lack of Oscar diversity might be the hot topic of the day, but only two reporters showed up for a news conference held by civil rights leaders today to detail plans for Sunday’s Oscar protest. Only Deadline and a reporter from KNX Radio attended the event, which was held outside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters in Beverly Hills.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said his group and one led by the Rev. Al Sharpton are calling for viewers to “tune out” Sunday’s Oscar telecast on ABC and for the industry’s “biggest and best-paid stars to voice the demand for top-to-bottom diversity in the film industry.” A viewer boycott, he said, “will result potentially in the loss of millions of dollars to the Academy in future advertising.”
Hutchinson’s group has also rolled out a four-minute video he encouraged viewers to watch instead of the Oscars telecast.
Civil rights activist Najee Ali, president of Project Islamic Hope, said this year’s protest might have been averted if Academy reps had met with him and Hutchinson last year after they called off a similar protest at the request of director Ava DuVernay. “I believe in dialogue,” he said, “but they refused to meet us.”
“The Oscars are so white because the studios are so white,” said Belinda Reser, a former Sony Pictures administrative assistant who’s currently suing the studio for racial discrimination.
Elsewhere on the boycott front today, transgender nominee Anohni declared she is skipping the ceremony entirely. She and J. Ralph are nominated for Best Original Song — “Manta Ray” from the documentary Racing Extinction – but it was one of two tunes left off the telecast’s playlist. In a blistering statement first published on Pitchfork, the singer acknowledged that “I know that I wasn’t excluded from the performance directly because I am transgendered” but blasted what she calls “a system of social oppression … that has been employed by capitalism in the U.S. to crush our dreams and our collective spirit”.
Of her fellow Best Song nominees – which include tunes sung by pop stars Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd — Anohni wrote, “I will not be lulled into submission with a few more well manufactured, feel-good ballads and a bit of good old fashioned T. and A.”