When this year’s Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday, “Carol” not being among the Best Picture pack wasn’t the only glaring omission. There was also a decided lack of non-white names. No Michael B. Jordan or director Ryan Coogler for “Creed,” no Samuel L. Jackson for “The Hateful Eight,” none of the trans stars of “Tangerine.” Even the screenwriters for the N.W.A. saga “Straight Outta Compton” were white.
It’s the whitest Oscars since, well, last year, when the Academy couldn’t even get behind “Selma” star David Oyelowo and director/cowriter Ava DuVernay. Before that it hadn’t been so white since 1998. And even on the on years it’s never been great: As the Huffington Post broke it down, on average two or three non-white performers and filmmakers tend to be nominated, and sometime it’s only one.
The backlash has been swift and mighty. Even this year’s Oscars host Chris Rock — in an ad for the show, no less — called them the “White BET Awards.” Sunday Jada Pinkett Smith — who to be honest should have been nominated for her movie-stealing turn in “Magic Mike XXL” — announced she’d be boycotting the ceremony altogether.
Now Spike Lee has joined the fray. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the filmmaker — whose “Chi-Raq” was a glorious and messy return to form (with no nominations) — sent out a lengthy Instagram message attached to a photo of a young MLK. Lee thanked the Academy for an honorary award he received in November, but said he too would be skipping out in protest of a batch of nominations he called "lilly white."