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Today's Headline

New D.E.I. Rules Introduced for Oscars

New D.E.I. Rules Introduced for Oscars

In response to the national reckoning over racial justice following George Floyd’s killing, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took unprecedented steps to address diversity concerns within the film industry. 

One significant change involved the Oscars’ Best Picture category, which now requires films to meet new diversity and inclusion standards. These standards encompass four main categories and nine subcategories, covering every aspect of the filmmaking process, from onscreen representation to offscreen leadership, training programs, and marketing.

Despite claims of success by academy leaders, critics argue that the standards are more about showmanship than substantial change. Some film executives, speaking anonymously, contend that the mandates have had little impact on their filmmaking practices, as the requirements are easily met. 

While acknowledging the Academy’s intentions, Director Spike Lee criticizes the standards for containing loopholes and asserts that real change requires diverse backgrounds among studio decision-makers.

The Oscars this year show some improvement in diversification, with seven of the 20 acting nominees coming from historically underrepresented groups. However, critics like actor Richard Dreyfuss label the Best Picture rules as “thoughtless,” “patronizing,” and an affront to artistic freedom.

Despite increased diversity in some aspects, a notable example is the film Oppenheimer, a front-runner with 13 nominations. While the film, set during World War II, quickly met the diversity requirements for Best Picture, its predominantly white cast has sparked controversy. Universal, the studio behind “Oppenheimer,” emphasizes its in-house programs and training initiatives to comply with the rules.

Proponents argue that the standards were not intended as a panacea but as a starting point for crucial conversations about representation in Hollywood. Critics maintain that change is not happening quickly enough, and a study on directors’ diversity dismisses industry pledges as performative.

The Academy’s standards also face criticism for potential exclusion, with more than 250 Hollywood insiders urging the inclusion of Jews. Additionally, there are concerns that the rules may infringe on artistic vision, with some arguing for expanding the search for diversification without inhibiting creative instincts.

While the standards may appear loose, they still raise issues of exclusion and potential legal challenges. Studios, not the Academy, could face liability for decisions related to these standards, prompting caution and legal concerns in the industry. Despite these challenges, academy officials maintain that the standards encourage discussions about inclusivity rather than dictate creative decisions.

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