The Oscars have announced new representation and inclusion standards for eligibility in the Best Picture category, and it’s not sitting well with some members of the Academy. Kirstie Alley railed against the initiative calling Hollywood “so far left.”
“This is a disgrace to artists everywhere ... can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f****** paintings. You people have lost your minds. Control artists, control individual thought ... OSCAR ORWELL,” she tweeted on Tuesday.
To be eligible for the top prize, a film must meet at least two standards across four categories: “Onscreen Representation, Themes and Narratives,” “Creative Leadership and Project Team,” “Industry Access and Opportunities” and “Audience Development.” Specific criteria is laid out within each category. The standards are part of the Academy’s effort to encourage representation on and off screen of underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people and those with cognitive or physical disabilities. The new rule will not go into effect until 2024.
Change starts now. We've announced new representation and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility, beginning with the 96th #Oscars. Read more here: https://t.co/qdxtlZIVKb pic.twitter.com/hR6c2jb5LM— The Academy (@TheAcademy) September 9, 2020
Alley, 69, blasted the move as “dictatorial” and “anti-artist.”
“I’ve been in the Motion Picture Academy for 40 years. The Academy celebrates freedom of UNBRIDLED artistry expressed through movies,” she tweeted. “The new RULES to qualify for ‘Best Picture’ are dictatorial ... anti-artist..Hollywood you’re swinging so far left you’re bumping into your own a**.”
Alley actively engaged with users who disagreed with her — using some NSFW language — and hit back on claims she’s “racist.” The Emmy winner said she believes in “diversity and inclusion,” but that it shouldn’t be mandated when making films.
Diversity and inclusion should be taught, taught so well and so naturally and genuinely that it becomes second nature to our children.— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 9, 2020
🤣But I ask you to explore my record of diversity & inclusion in anything I’ve produced & throughout my life. I’m not perfect but have fought for human & civil rights for 50 years. I just don’t agree w mandated, impossible to “police” quotas as a prerequisite 4 a “best” picture🤷♀️ https://t.co/PZy4QMZcEu— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 9, 2020
I don’t feel a desperate need to defend myself, but sometimes it’s important to go on record with your own history. Especially since people aren’t aware of our track records. Understanding is my goal. Understanding leads to change.— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 9, 2020
On Wednesday morning, Alley somewhat backtracked. She deleted her tweet with the Picasso analogy, telling her 1 million followers it “misrepresented” her viewpoint.
“I am 100 percent behind diversity inclusion & tolerance. I’m opposed to MANDATED ARBITRARY percentages relating to hiring human beings in any business,” she wrote.
I deleted my first tweet about the new rules for best movie OSCARS because I feel it was a poor analogy & misrepresented my viewpoint. I am 100% behind diversity inclusion & tolerance. I’m opposed to MANDATED ARBITRARY percentages relating to hiring human beings in any business.— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 9, 2020
Oscar nominee James Woods, 73, simply called the new standards “madness.”
Dean Cain retweeted both Woods and Alley.
How about we judge on this criteria--— Dean Cain (@RealDeanCain) September 9, 2020
which film was the BEST PICTURE?
(also, when do we start handing out participation Oscars?) https://t.co/UX1IBfgpRC
Actor Nick Searcy also condemned the new standards and “Woke Hollywood.”
This is right. The Oscars used to be, just like the movies, something we all shared.— Nick Searcy,INTERNATIONAL FILM & TELEVISION STAR (@yesnicksearcy) September 9, 2020
Woke Hollywood turned it all into a weapon they could use against anyone who disagreed with their politics.
This is how Hollywood destroyed itself, like the @nba, @nfl, and @mlb just did. https://t.co/IiySze0cwV
Many film critics and bloggers have tweeted in support of the Academy’s efforts, but reactions from past Oscar winners is scarce thus far. Director Ava DuVernay responded to Alley with a GIF of Denzel Washington shutting a door in a man’s face.
The Academy stepped up diversity efforts after the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite controversy. The 2020 Oscar nominations sparked backlash again for not recognizing actors of color and women; however, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite made history as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture. Tuesday’s announcement is part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative.
“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a joint statement. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”
More information on the 2024 eligibility requirements for Best Picture can be found here.