Stephen King, the renowned author, has been the subject of many debates recently about diversity. In the past month, it seems as if King has been on both sides of the fence. On January 14th, King made some controversial comments about diversity in regards to Academy Award nominations. King tweeted “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” That caused quite the stir on Twitter with popular writers such as Ava DuVernay and Morgan Jerkins voicing their disagreement and displeasure with the ignorance of his initial comments. Jerkins felt his comments didn’t take into account that there is an “implicit bias” involved in the voting process due to the fact it is predominantly controlled by white men.
In an attempt to smooth things over, King would later tweet “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.”
A couple of weeks later, King is making another attempt to clarify his point by way of an op-ed piece for the Washington Post. In the piece, King stated that he thought the Oscars were rigged in favor of the white folks. He pointed out that in the demographic makeup of voters, women only made up 32 percent of the 9,000 voters and people of color represented only 16 percent of Academy members. King was clear in stating that those numbers should be higher. “Not good enough. Not even within shouting distance of good enough,” he said. He also questioned if voters like him were actually watching films of a diverse nature like “Harriet” or “The Last Black Man In San Francisco”.
Although these statements are new from a person within the Academy, the Academy is not new to these judgments. In 2015, April Reign started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter to highlight the lack of diversity among the Academy’s nominations that year. The tweet started a movement and led to many not attending or supporting the Oscars until some change was made. Since 2015, The Academy has made an effort to increase diversity in all facets. Though progress has been made it is still clear to King and many others that more needs to be done.