Lack of diversity: Are the Oscars rigged?

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    2012 Academy Awards nominations luncheon honoring this year’s nominees. (Academy Awards photo gallery)

    The hidden secret behind the smiles and speeches is finally unveiled: Oscar decision makers are mostly white, male and have a median age of 62.

    Surprising? For some advocates, it’s been speculated for years considering the lack of diversity among the winners.

    Although what the Los Angeles Times found in its full-blown account published this Sunday might not be particularly startling, its no less paramount considering the members are markedly less diverse than the movie going public.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that votes for the Oscars, are nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male. Blacks are about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than two percent, according to the report.

    People younger than 50 constitute just 14 percent of the membership. What’s more telling is that hundreds of academy voters haven’t worked on a movie in decades, the L.A. Times reports.

    There’s a three-step process to become a member in this exclusive academy:

    • Apply and receive a recommendation from two members of a branch
    • Earn and endorsement from the academy staff or the membership committee
    • The committee votes and those with a majority are invited to join.

    For years, it’s been suspected the academy’s composition influences who gets nominated for and wins.

    Back in 1996, Rev. Jesse Jackson claimed there was evidence of “race exclusion and cultural violence” in Hollywood over the absence of black and minority Oscar nominees. Was he out of bounds?

    Critics of the Academy have long accused it of ignoring black and Hispanic talent, and women. This year the five nominees for best director are all white men. Only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won the best director Oscar, for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010, The Telegraph reports.

    Not a single minority was among the 45 people nominated for actor, actress, supporting actor and actress, director and original and adapted screenplay last year. Denzel Washington who won the Best Actor Oscar for “Training Day” in 2001, was among those who said the Academy should “balance” its membership.

    “If the country is 12% black, make the academy 12% black,” said Denzel Washington. “If the nation is 15% Hispanic, make the academy 15% Hispanic. Why not?”

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