To the editor: What are we to make of the plan to increase minority nominees for the Oscars by diversifying the electors in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? ("Film academy makes dramatic rule changes to address diversity," Jan. 22)
Diversification is laudable; every such organization should resemble the broad population if specific criteria for membership, those based on specialized knowledge or skill set, accommodate it.
The idea that more minority electors will increase the chances of minority nominees is freighted with racism, however, for it suggests that minority electors will choose nominees on the basis of race, precisely what we are trying to avoid. Subjective judgments, those applied to the choice of Oscar winners, escape any objective scale.
The academy should also avoid a racial set-aside, for that diminishes the idea of merit.
Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati
To the editor: The recent moves toward inclusion offered by the Academy just don't cut it. Goals are great, but laying out exactly how you achieve them is a little more difficult.
We set a goal to eradicate poverty in our country when Lyndon B. Johnson was in office. Five decades later, poverty is still a major problem. Every Democratic president since Harry Truman called for universal healthcare, and it's still just a goal.
We talk about significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Have you seen the pictures from China lately?
A goal does only so much. Getting there takes an actual plan. And in the case of actual changes by the Academy, the devil is in the details.
Words and goals, no matter how well-intended, are no longer enough.
Robert A. Boleyn, Los Angeles
To the editor: What the academy has missed, I think, is making sure that all voters actually watch the films under consideration. If more members had seen "Beasts of No Nation" or "Straight Outta Compton," there probably would have been nominations.
The foreign film committee must see the films in order to vote, so there surely is a way to enforce the same rule for other categories.
Susan Brenner, Los Angeles
To the editor: It was very encouraging to see the academy respond to this controversy with consideration, respect, maturity, introspection and a willingness to change.
We can all learn from this and hopefully put away the outrage and the egos and enjoy the upcoming Academy Awards.
Alan Sworski, Thousand Oaks