Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row
First the actor Jada Pinkett-Smith said she wouldn’t be going in protest. Then director Spike Lee announced he would also be staying away. They were followed by a chorus line of actors and entertainers, all expressing dismay that for the second successive year, the Oscars Academy had failed to nominate a single non-white actor.
But on Friday, the British actor Charlotte Rampling, who did make the exclusive list of nominees, made it clear the sentiment was not universal, telling a French radio station that the row was in fact “racist to white people”.
Asked if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should introduce quotas, a proposal that no current advocate of increased diversity has mooted, she responded: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted ... People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ ... someone will always be saying ‘You are too...’, but do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”The bilingual actor told the station Europe 1 she did not understand the anger of those who were calling for a boycott of the ceremony. “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” said Rampling, who is nominated for best actress for her role in the British film 45 Years.
Her remarks prompted an immediate and heated response on social media, where the controversy has assumed the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. “MISSING: A set of marbles,” wrote the journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan on Twitter. “If found, please return to Charlotte Rampling.They have been joined by others including Will Smith – who some feel was unfairly overlooked for his performance in Concussion – and George Clooney, who told Variety: “If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees – like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction.”Rampling’s stance on diversity is in stark contrast to the views of a number of her fellow nominees.Mark Ruffalo, nominated for best supporting actor for Spotlight, said he supported reasons behind the plan to boycott the ceremony on 28 February as “the nominations are not representative of our community” – though after mulling over the decision he said he would attend to support victims of child abuse, an issue his film addresses. Brie Larson, nominated in the same category as Rampling for Room, said the diversity issue “deserves attention”.
At 69, however, Rampling may find herself more representative of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences than others who have spoken publicly. An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63.http://adf.ly/1VhYnO