Charlotte Rampling Says The Oscars Diversity Mess Is “Racist To White People”

Charlotte Rampling is nominated for an Oscar, for her work in 45 Years, and apparently has a lot to say about the Oscars diversity mess! Mostly that everything going on right now is “racist to whites.”

In an interview with French radio station Europe 1, when asked to speak on the Oscars and their lack of diversity, she was pretty blunt. From the Guardian:

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” added Rampling. Asked if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should introduce quotas, a proposal which no current advocate of increased diversity has mooted, she responded: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ … someone will always be saying ‘You are too’ [this or that] … But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

Oh, okay. Thanks, Char! Someone, come get Charlotte Rampling, please, and keep her away from a microphone for the rest of this month.

For a refreshing counterpoint, Richard Brody at The New Yorker elucidates beautifully why diversity matters in this very particular case. “The underlying issue of the Academy’s failure to recognize black artists is the presumption that baseline experience is white experience and that black life is a niche phenomenon, life with an asterisk,” he writes. Recognizing artists, creators and filmmakers that represent an experience outside of the status quo is essential.

It’s easy to write off awards show season as pointless pageantry, a room of the very rich and the very beautiful clapping each other on the back in congratulation. Part of it is. But, as Brody writes, getting recognition by the Academy levels up a fledgling career, opening doors and creating a clear path towards eventual success. “The Academy’s failure to acknowledge the achievements of black actors—even (as with many white actors) in Oscar-aimed movies of less than the highest artistry—inhibits the very future of filmmaking by black artists,” he writes. A lack of professional and critical support around creative work gaslights the creator into thinking they’re less than. The machine of the Academy and the way it works supports this.

The ouroboros of whiteness is a “monster of circularity,” a never-ending cycle of white actors being nominated by white Academy members and going on to collaborate with more white people to make more films that dominate the market, pushing aside stories that come from a different perspective. The Academy, above all, is an institution –old, revered, and steadfast in its ways. Like all institutions, the problems are systemic. Change, in this case, must come from within.