KAUFMAN: Disappointing gender diversity in Oscar nominations

Unless you’re Tom Brady, the most exciting Sunday in February has yet to come. The Oscars are quickly approaching, and Feb. 26, viewers will tune in to see which films, actors and directors will be crowned with a highly coveted Academy Award.

This award show has come under fire in the last few years because of the academy’s extreme lack of diversity in nominees. In fact, the last two years had all-white actor nominees, spurring the infamous social media hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite. This year’s crop of nominees is a more inclusive bunch — seven of the 20 acting nominees are people of color, which ties a record set in 2007.

While there is an increased representation of minorities by the academy this year, the percentage of female nominees in nonacting categories dropped, which makes this Oscars a bit of a catch-22 for me. On one hand, I am happy with the record number of people of color being recognized by nominations, however, I am disappointed in the lack of gender diversity.

The Women’s Media Center conducted a study that showed women made up only 20 percent of the nominees in nonacting categories this year. These categories include best directing, cinematography or editing. This year’s Oscars will be the seventh in a row with zero women directors nominated. In all of Oscars history, there has yet to be a woman cinematographer nominated.

This gender diversity issue goes beyond just the Oscars. It plagues all of Hollywood. Of the highest grossing films of 2016, for example, women made up only 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers and editors.

This realization begs the question, how are viewers affected? The underrepresentation of minority groups in the Oscars can be summed up as a product of a racially skewed, male-dominated Hollywood. Movies and television created by and starring women and people of color allow individuals to gain better understanding of other cultures and view the world from multiple lenses. If as a society we don’t praise and honor women filmmakers, we lose their stories and their voices become mute.

Despite my frustrations, I will still be fully engrossed by the Oscars in a few Sunday evenings. My fingers are crossed for my personal favorite movies this year — “Manchester By The Sea” and “Moonlight” — but I am most excited to see the diversity that was so lacking the last few years. Hopefully, celebrities will use this highly televised event to speak out on behalf of those who lack a voice, shed light on the historically unrepresented minorities and advocate for increased diversity in not only the Oscars but the mainstream media overall.