As Hollywood and Madison Avenue head through their respective award seasons, it’s disturbing to see the similarities in regards to exclusivity. That is, White men drive both industries, and it shows in the work that is ultimately lauded as being the “best” in the business.
The 2015 Academy Awards have already received criticism for the nominees’ lack of diversity. Film Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs tried to coordinate damage control, yet her response seemed disturbingly clueless.
The Best Picture nominations underscore matters with an exclamation point. It’s no secret that the academy is roughly 94 percent White, overwhelming male and old. With the exception of Selma, the nominated films essentially depict White males overcoming physical and/or emotional obstacles. But that’s the result when the criteria for excellence—as well as the privileges of production—are viewed and established through a mono-cultural lens.
On the other hand, Madison Avenue appears completely oblivious to its dearth of diversity at award shows, despite past attempts to publicize the problem. Integrating White women into the jury processes is a recent smokescreen—or Caucasian flesh-toned BAND-AID®—that avoids the real root issue of White man dominance. In the end, the advertising award winners are as blatantly Caucasian and male in appeal as the 2015 Best Picture nominees.
If Selma hoped to win accolades, the creators should have taken the Italian approach for hyping 12 Years A Slave. That is, just as an Italian promoter created posters highlighting Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt for 12 Years A Slave, Selma could have presented itself as a Tom Wilkinson vehicle spotlighting the heroism of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The film’s chances of securing the Oscar would have significantly improved.