Readers React

'Selma' left out: Why assume it was racism?

To the editor: The article declares that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has "mostly overlooked" the film "Selma." The very same Hollywood types that are regularly criticized for their liberal leanings are now accused of turning a blind eye to minorities. ("Oscars 2015: Diversity is the biggest nomination snub," Jan. 15)

The story is front-loaded with quotes from the director of UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and a representative from the African American Film Critics Assn. Of course Al Sharpton wants an emergency meeting with "Hollywood leaders." The last several paragraphs cover the many other possible scenarios of this outrageous omission less than a year after "12 Years a Slave" had three black acting nominees and won the best picture award.

Terrific movies are snubbed almost every year for a wide variety of reasons. If the math doesn't work out to an equitable allocation of diversity, do we have to assume it to be racially motivated rather than something more benign?

Robin Blomquist, Torrance


To the editor: It should come as no surprise that the nominations reflect two words: money and risk. The members mostly consist of voters whose nature is built around those words. It has been a part of the industry's thinking since it became a profit-driven business.

The nominations also reflect the community at large. In the early days, filmmakers had to be careful not to offend Southern sensibilities; now, with the nation still polarized, Hollywood is still risk-averse. The truth is that the biggest motivation is the bottom line.

As for women on film, there seems to be only one for academy voters: Meryl Streep. As for black people on film, they seem to be saying what many others have said recently: "What do you people want? You've got a black president."

Anthony Lawrence, Woodland Hills


To the editor: Seemingly every year, the academy is slammed over diversity.

As the wife of an academy member, I can say they're not all aging couch potatoes who don't really watch the films. They are diligent, passionate film-goers and makers.

The fact that this year there was less diversity than might be desired perhaps has more to do to the quality of the films submitted. You may not agree with the academy's choices, but did you see all the films that the members saw? Are you being swayed by the promotion that gets thrown at members?

The academy is not perfect, but its goals are to reward the exceptional, no matter the race of the filmmakers or actors. There were so many who were not included, but I hear no outcry about anything but "Selma," which was a very good film, but perhaps not the greatest.

Let us celebrate the nominees and hope that next year even better films are produced that showcase our diversity.

Susan Brenner, Los Angeles


To the editor: This issue goes to the heart of what's wrong about the state tax credit program.

Why are Californians — most of whom, according to the census, are people of color — subsidizing an industry that consistently and without excuse continues to snub them and avoid its responsibility to be inclusive?

Larry Kaplan, Los Angeles


To the editor: I would like to wish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a happy Martin Luther King Day.

Monte Whaley, Redondo Beach

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