The 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony will blast us with hot golden radiation for four plus hours on Sunday night, so of course everyone's excited. Because the Oscars are fun! Yes they're long and ridiculous and self-congratulatory and everyone's a zillionaire so who really cares in the end, but c'mon. They're fun. As a spectacle, as a guessing game, as a chance to see actors rattling around in their bodies as themselves instead of characters on a movie screen, they're a good time. (Plus: dresses!) Though something increasingly gnaws away at that fun.
In a fascinating new piece looking into the makeup of the 5,765-member Academy, The Los Angeles Times presents some telling statistics, the chief takeaway being that, yes indeed, as long suspected Academy voters are predominantly older white men — oftentimes, depending on the branch, almost exclusively so. Let's excerpt some of the article's findings:
Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14 percent of the membership.
[S]ome of the academy's 15 branches are almost exclusively white and male. Caucasians currently make up 90 percent or more of every academy branch except actors, whose roster is 88 percent white. The academy's executive branch is 98 percent white, as is its writers branch.
Oscar voters are nearly 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2 percent.
So those figures all paint a pretty clear picture of what we're dealing with here. When the Oscars get handed out, they're a reflection of a pretty homogenous group of people's tastes. One could get upset about lack of the representation among women and minority groups (and even younger people), and probably one should, but that's a different post for another time. Really what we're concerned with today is that the The Times' article makes it plain and clear that we were never wrong to dismiss the Academy's rulings as qualitatively uneven, maybe even useless.