Oscars 2015: Thousands boycott Academy Awards over lack of diversity

A hashtag born out of frustration over the lack of diversity among this year's Academy Awards nominees has inspired one of the largest organized Oscar boycotts in Hollywood history.

Those who've been criticizing the Academy for failing to recognize artists of colour skip the 2015 Oscars

D.C.-based lawyer and creator of the viral #OscarsSoWhite hashtag April Reign is one of many critics boycotting the 2015 Academy Awards. (@ReignOfApril / Twitter)

Of everything published in the run up to this year's Academy Awards ceremony, diversity — or rather, a lack thereof among nominees — undeniably dominated the conversation, both online and off.

One need look no further than the opening line of tonight's show for proof of just how much friction 2015's crop of 100 per cent white acting nominees has caused.

"Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest — I mean brightest," joked first-time Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris in reference to the controversy, which he had also addressed with a tongue-in-cheek tweet earlier this month. 

While many on Twitter have been praising Harris for addressing the diversity issue head-on during his opening monologue, the feeds of those who have been loudest in criticizing the Academy for failing to recognize artists of colour haven't mentioned it at all.

That's because they're not watching the 2015 Oscars.

As D.C.-based lawyer and creator of the viral #OscarsSoWhite hashtag April Reign writes, "I'm not going to complain about not seeing faces like mine in movies, then turn around & give the #Oscars 3 hours of ratings."

Reign is one of thousands who've decided to boycott the 87th annual Academy Awards over the lack of diversity among its nominees and the perceived snubs of films and actors such as the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma​ and its breakout star David Oyelowo.

Instead of using Twitter to chat about the Oscars, Reign is hosting a Twitter Q&A with actress Aunjanue Ellis from the series Book of Negroes and live-tweeting a co-ordinated Netflix stream of the 1998 Eddie Murphy film Coming to America

Jamie Broadnax of BlackGirlNerds will also be boycotting the Oscars to focus on something else.

“I’ll be watching “The Walking Dead which to be honest, watching rotting corpses attack people in the zombie apocalypse is far more entertaining than the Oscars will ever be," she told Forbes for an article titled How Black Twitter ignited an Oscar viewing boycott.

Broadnax and Reign are two of the more than 10,000 people who've have been tweeting about the boycott today using the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, which racked up a whopping 95,000 tweets per hour when it was launched following the announcement of the 2015 nominees on Jan. 15.

The hashtags #OscarsBoycott#BlackLivesMatter and #BoycottOscars are also filled with tweets about boycotting the show — the latter most heavily.

On Friday, Reuters reported that several activism groups, including Al Sharpton's National Action Network, were planning to protest this year's televised Oscars ceremony while stars arrived on the red carpet.

"The goal of the protest is to send a message to the Academy, send a message to Hollywood, send a message to the film industry," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, head of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable group to AFP last week. "And the message is very simple: you don't reflect America; your industry doesn't reflect America. Women, Hispanics, African-Americans, people of colour (are) invisible in Hollywood."

The protest was called off, however, just hours before it was set to take place.
“Upon the request of SELMA director Ava DuVernay, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network has agreed to forgo our planned protests of the Oscars today and pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences via Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Dawn Hudson," wrote Najee Ali, political director of the National Action Network's Los Angeles chapter in a statement.

"We continue to be fervent in our mission for expansion and inclusion within the Academy and the motion picture industry as a whole," Ali's statement continued. "We salute all the artists being celebrated today at the Oscars while demanding an examination of the sidelining and underrepresentation of artists of color and women artists. Art can change the world and the world is more diverse than this year’s honorees."



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