Momentum may be building for a broad boycott of this year’s Oscars ceremony by some of Hollywood’s most noted stars. Spike Lee was among the first make his intentions clear by stating he would sit out the awards show. Jada Pinkett Smith soon followed suit. Her megastar husband Will Smith has stated that he will stand by his wife and boycott the ceremony.
And now it looks like this may just be the beginning.
At issue is diversity and specifically the representation (or lack there of) of people of color among Oscar nominees. For the second straight year, there are no blacks among the actors and directors nominated in the major categories (Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress and Best Director). Two consecutive years of omissions was too much for filmmaker Spike Lee who announced his intentions soon after the nominations were announced. However, Lee denies that he was trying to start a widespread boycott of the awards.
“Here’s the thing. I have never used the word boycott … All I said was, my beautiful wife Tonya [and I], we’re not coming. That’s it, then I gave the reasons, so I never used the word boycott.” said Lee speaking recently with Good Morning America.
Whether it was his intention or not, the famed director looks to have started something. In addition to Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo recently announced his is also considering skipping out on the ceremony. His position is significant since Ruffalo is among those actors who were nominated for an award this year (Best Supporting Actor).
“I do have a great deal of sympathy for it and I think it is a powerful gesture,” commented Ruffalo when speaking with SKY News (UK).
Pressure is also mounting on this year’s host, actor/comedian Chris Rock. There have been several calls for him to join the protest by stepping down as host. Thus far, Rock has remained silent on the issue as prominent black entertainers weigh in on both sides. Steve Harvey, who infamously hosted the most recent Miss Universe pageant, is among those who want Rock to remain as host stating in part that “we need him to host”. Fast and Furious star Tyresse Gibson and rap star 50 Cent are among those on the opposite side taking to social media to plead with Rock to step down.
For his part, the man who may have inadvertently started the boycott is not taking a side on the issue of the host. “He’s going to do what he wants to do, and I’m going to support either way,” Lee said.
The Oscars will be televised on ABC on Sunday, February 28th.