As Hollywood prepares to dish out the 2012 Oscars on Sunday night, a new report detailing the demographics of the 5,765 Academy voters is sending a jolt through the film industry. According to a study conducted by the Los Angeles Times, 86 percent of Oscar voters are over age 50, 94 percent are white, and 77 percent are male — demographics that do not exaclty mirror the typical moviegoing audience. Just how troubling is it that the overwhelming majority of Oscar voters are "old, white, and male?"
This is extremely worrisome: "The Oscar demographics seem to both reflect and perpetuate a much bigger issue," says Angie Han at Slash Film. When a voting population is so heavily comprised of a single demographic, "that demographic's general preferences can't help but be overrepresented." And in Oscar's case, that has major consequences. When certain movies score Academy Awards, that "in turn encourages Hollywood to keep making and promoting certain types of films… while overlooking others."
"Shocker: Oscar voters mostly old, white, male"
And the Academy's reforms aren't enough: These findings are "even worse than I ever imagined," says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. To be fair, the Academy appears to be making an effort to diversify its membership by inviting the likes of Beyonce and Seth Rogen to cast ballots. But it's not enough. So on Sunday night, when you're "slamming your head against the table because Shame didn't get nominated and The Artist is winning everything," you'll know why. "If you're not a a white man over the age of 50, there's a good chance the Oscars don't represent your taste at all."
"Find out just how old, white, and male the Oscar voters are"
It's time for dramatic change: Last year, there were no major Oscar nominations for people of color, says Gregory Ellwood at HitFix. This year, there are just three. And because of the arcane system by which the Academy inducts new members, it could take decades to remedy the situation and make the body younger and more diverse — in other words, to have it reflect the actual moviegoing public. It's time to take a dramatic step to fix this. "Perhaps 7,000 or so phone calls will make it more of a priority the Monday after this year's big show."
"Surprise: The Academy is more white, more male, and even older than you probably thought"