Spike Lee announced on Instagram this morning that he will not be attending the 88th Academy Awards because of the lack of diversity in nominees highlighted by the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag campaign. According to People, this will be the second year in a row that Lee has chosen not to attend Hollywood’s most glamorous awards show.
Lee opened his heartfelt Instagram post with a resigned “#OscarsSoWhite…Again” before launching into a heartfelt critique of the Academy’s nominations:
How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the Actor category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!
#OscarsSoWhite… Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!! It’s No Coincidence I’m Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday. Dr. King Said “There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It’s Right”. For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The “Real” Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To “Turnaround” Or Scrap Heap. This Is What’s Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With “The Green Light” Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, “I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS”. People, The Truth Is We Ain’t In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont’d)
As Lee wrote on Instagram, it is “no coincidence” that this statement was announced today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
Dr. King said ‘There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it’s right.’ For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different.
Lee has been nominated twice for an Academy Award: once in 1990 for Do the Right Thing (Best Original Screenplay) and once in 1998 for 4 Little Girls (Best Documentary [Feature]). He did not win either time. He was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2015, but has never received a Best Director or Best Picture nod from the Academy despite being consistently ranked as a top Hollywood power player. When Lee accepted his honorary Oscar at the 2015 Governors Awards, he slammed the Academy for its lack of diversity at all levels:
Everybody in here probably voted for Obama but when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio…So we can talk ‘yabba yabba yabba’ but we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this. This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous.
Sadly, the Academy has not paid attention. Jada Pinkett Smith also announced her intent to skip the awards show today, citing the same reason.
(Photo credit: WENN.com, Spike Lee on Instagram)