Can a Boycott Change the Oscars? Cont'd

David’s writeup of the Oscar boycott elicited of a ton of response from readers this week. Here are a few of the more substantive counterpoints from a sea of comments:

It’s fine. Protest it.

But don’t come back next year and expect that any award will be anything honest or heartfelt. Don’t expect respect if you bully people into voting for you. The only way to earn the honest congratulations is to let people vote their heart and mind without having their arm turned behind their back.

Another reader makes a broader argument:

Workforces and nominee lists shouldn’t reflect the U.S. as a whole; they should respect the segment of the U.S. that’s qualified to be hired or selected.

Engineers in this country are overwhelmingly male not because female engineers aren’t hired, but because engineering students have historically been overwhelmingly male. The most logical way to alter the composition isn’t to purposefully try to hire more female engineers; it’s to increase the qualified population by showing young girls that they’re every bit as capable of filling this valuable role in society and to ensure that, consciously or not, this male-dominated profession isn't perceived as a “man’s world” that would serve to discourage interested young women.

Nobody’s shocked when R&B or rap awards are overwhelmingly comprised of African American artists. Why? Because Eminem and Iggy Azalea are the exception, and the majority of artists that those communities value and treasure aren’t white; it’s a result of cultural norms. If you want to see equal representation there, you’d look to encourage more young men and women who aren’t black to pursue careers in the area. It’s not racist to acknowledge that the population from which the selections are made isn’t reflective of the whole.

In this example, perhaps the root cause is that there isn’t parity in hiring of nonwhite actors in Hollywood, and perhaps that goes another level deeper to the number of qualified nonwhite actors, which could be attributed to drama schools’ admission processes, which could go down to family values in choosing college majors... It’s not necessarily a simple answer, and certainly not an answer that requires racism to be a genuine root cause. Regardless, blaming the Academy is superficial.

Selecting people, films, or anything else on the basis of race, gender, orientation, etc. doesn’t do anyone any good if their selection isn’t equally merit-based. Egalitarianism for the sake of itself risks becoming exercise in feel-good navel gazing that creates an illusion of parity; it doesn’t elevate anyone and risks cheapening the honors being given. Doing some root cause analysis is a lot more valuable than fretting over outcomes that often don’t provide any insight into anything but the next layer down.

Disagree? Drop us an email and we’ll post the best ones.