Spike Lee is to boycott the 2016 Oscars over the US Academy’s failure to nominate a single black actor for the second year running.
Lee received an honorary Oscar at a ceremony in November last year for his work as a film-maker. But writing on Instagram on Monday, the director of Do the Right Thing and Chi-Raq said he had decided not to attend the main event.
“I would like to thank president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for awarding me an honorary Oscar this past November,” he wrote. “I am most appreciative. However my wife, Mrs Tonya Lewis Lee and I will not be attending the Oscar ceremony this coming February. We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, president Isaacs and the Academy. But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”
It was not clear if Lee was responding to Jada Pinkett Smith’s tweeted suggestion on Saturday that a boycott of the Oscars by ethnic minority actors might be justified. “At the Oscars … people of colour are always welcomed to give out awards … even entertain,” Pinkett Smith wrote on Twitter . “But we are rarely recognised for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of colour refrain from participating all together? People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment.”
Lee’s Chi-Raq, a critically acclaimed musical comedy about a woman who goes on sex strike to protest against black-on-black gun violence in Chicago, failed to make an impact on the current awards season despite an Oscars push by the film’s studio, Amazon . Pinkett Smith is married to the actor Will Smith, who missed out on a best actor nomination for his role in the film Concussion .
Other absentees from Thursday’s list of Oscar nominees included British actor Idris Elba, who was widely expected to challenge for the best supporting actor prize following his Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild-nominated turn as an African warlord in the Netflix drama Beasts of No Nation, Benicio del Toro for Sicario and Michael B Jordan for Creed.
Meanwhile, Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer described the 2016 list of Oscar nominees as “embarrassing” in a lengthy Facebook post after the film’s sole nomination was handed to its white screenwriters, Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff. Boone Isaacs has described the omission of actors from ethnic minorities, which is once again being highlighted by Twitter users under the hashtag #Oscarssowhite, as “disappointing”.
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