The LA Times Confirms What We Already Know - The Academy is Old, White and Male

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by Melissa Silverstein
February 20, 2012 12:20 PM
9 Comments
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For some reason the folks that run the Academy have made it their business to keep the membership a secret.  You kind of know who has recently been asked to be a member because they now release lists of people given invitations, but you really don't know who the majority of the 5,765 members are.  They want it to seem like a secret society, but it reminds me more of a typical frat where they don't want the names to be revealed because then they would actually have to explain how unrepresentative they are.

The LA Times has dug in and talked to 89% of Academy members and to no one's surprise the Academy is old, white and male.

Here are the stats:

  • The Academy is 94% white
  • The Academy is 77% male. 
  • The media age is 62.
  • Only 14% are under 50 years old.

Also we learned that women make up just 9% of the directing branch and 19% of the screenwriting branch.

My douche comment of the day goes to former Academy President and current Board of Governor member Frank Pierson who said:

"I don't see any reason why the academy should represent the entire American population. That's what the People's Choice Awards are for...We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn't reflect the general population, so be it."  

No wonder why women and people of color have such a hard time getting in with leaders making comments like that. 

Also it's important to remember that the Oscars and the Academy are big business.  The Academy has $196 million in assets and gives out $20 million in grants and scholarships a year including to film festivals, and according to their last tax filing made $81 million dollars in revenue from the Academy Awards.

While I'm sure this is not news to people who work in the business, it will be news to people who only pay attention to this stuff around Oscar time.  Us regular people, you know the ones in the American population who like the People's Choice Awards and actually buy tickets to your movies... we are going to have some questions about this.

Wake the fuck up Academy.  Come out from behind the veil and publish your membership.  What have you got to hide?

Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male (LA Times)

How the members were counted (LA Times)


 

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9 Comments

  • Vickie Sampson | March 14, 2012 5:13 PMReply

    Funny... I'm an Academy member (of the sound branch) and no one has ever polled me on anything regarding the academy. I know it's true (the stats) but it sure would give it more credibility if indeed they were polling actual Academy members!

  • Bigger Brother | March 14, 2012 4:19 AMReply

    I can't see the problem with a private organisation appointing who the hell they like. It's not a public service department that has to enforce quotas. Besides, it would seem that the Academy are overwhelmingly Americans which means that they are excluding some of the best film-makers in the world. Their loss, and Hollywood will succeed or fail on how it conducts its business. Personally, I'd rather watch a well crafted French or eastern European film with subtitles than the formulaeic, predictable, CGI heavy Hollywood fare.

    If you misandrists are so enraged by the opinions and decisions of "old white males" then make your own films, form your own Academy, hold your own "Oscarettes" ceremony. Somehow I don't think it would be a ratings winner.

  • Alex | March 2, 2012 4:15 PMReply

    http://www.facebook.com/UniteWomen?sk=wall&filter=1
    You want to know where it's REALLY awful that something is dominated by old white males? Try OUR GOVERNMENT. And then DO something about it. Join us.

  • debra levine | February 27, 2012 3:34 AMReply

    My predominant impression of the broadcast tonight was hordes of white men, sometimes alone, sometimes in clusters, mounting the stage to collect the naked-guy statuette. The men around Martin Scorsese represent a particularly entrenched crew, Thelma S. notwithstanding.

  • Bes | February 21, 2012 3:10 PMReply

    Well that explains a lot.

  • Sabrina C | February 20, 2012 5:40 PMReply

    Frank Pierson should be ashamed of himself and the Academy should be ashamed of what he said. The Fox guy wasn't much better. You can hear their white male elitism seeping through the page. It reeks.

  • Katie | February 20, 2012 4:21 PMReply

    Thanks for publishing these facts. If we push the Academy enough, they will probably get a few more women and people of color. However, we need to ensure that the women make a feminist difference at the academy and that the people of color challenge white privilege. The male pale Academy wouldn't mind having a few women who support the male-dominated status quo and are happy to be gender decoys.

  • LeonRaymond | February 20, 2012 1:14 PMReply

    Wow that's deep, sounds like the same exact stats of members as The Klu Klux Klan!

  • kindayahudi | February 24, 2012 2:57 PM

    Definitely not Ku Klux Klan; too many white jewish males on the board.

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