Stephen King, you are supposed to be with us. The horror genre icon recently posted to Twitter about the lack of diversity in the recent Academy Awards nominations. In two tweets, King admitted he had an opportunity to nominate films in up to three categories.
As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue--as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway--did not come up. That said...— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
The follow-up tweet is where the author majorly stuck his foot in his mouth, explaining that he “would never consider diversity in matters of art.”
...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
That’s… not a great take. Especially when, once again, women like Greta Gerwig and Melina Matsoukas got shut out of the Best Director category.
Call me crazy but I believe that white men, feeling threatened by recent pushes to hire more women & POC, are not voting for films made by those people because that would validate those films & create a shift in the market place.
— Glen Mazzara (@glenmazzara) January 14, 2020
It has been four years since #OscarsSoWhite demanded the Academy add more diversity in their nominations. While we’ve seen success here and there (Moonlight, Spike Lee and Jordan Peele, Black Panther and Regina King), especially in the 2019 awards, the 2020 nominations are a giant step back. Actors of color had a phenomenal year in film, but Awkwafina, Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Melina Matsoukas and Jamie Foxx were all snubbed, despite their critically acclaimed, buzzed-about performances. Twitter users were, rightfully, upset with King’s admission.
The diversity issue “did not come up”? So not only did you neglect to consider POC as nominees, but you also didn’t think it was necessary to engage in discourse about that clear lack of diversity?
— Jen (@JenClarke18) January 14, 2020
One Twitter user pointed out how writers—like Stephen King—are essential to creating diverse stories.
The “diversity issue” is not just about actors and directors. It’s about pictures and screen plays too. Diversity starts with writing.
— Pet Wisdom for Life (@SDWisdom) January 14, 2020
Writer, director, and activist Ava DuVernay chimed in on King’s Oscars take.
When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020
DuVernay got a response from King, but not a good one.
Loved THE SHINING, CARRIE, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (RITA), STAND BY ME (THE BODY).
But this is a different conversation.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020
Fellow writer and activist Roxane Gay also called out King for his comments.
As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 14, 2020
As did many others on Twitter.
The interesting thing is that diversity generally leads to more interesting, relatable, and higher quality art...— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) January 14, 2020
Stephen King is a great writer of our time & yada yada... but if you truly believe that diversity in art shouldn’t be considered then you simply don’t understand art at it’s core.— RUM TUM THUGGER (@IfyNwadiwe) January 15, 2020
Art is expression. Expression comes from POV. The only way to have diverse POVs is to consider... https://t.co/i6WpGzARjO
And by the way… I DID read Stephen King’s entire thread.— michaelharriot (@michaelharriot) January 15, 2020
Here’s the question: Have you ever read Stephen King’s books?
Have you ever noticed that every black character is raped, killed or knows some kind of magic?
That’s because he doesn’t consider diversity in art.
King later backtracked in a later tweet, where he supported diverse voices and stories.
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.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020