While support quickly piles up among celebrities and Hollywood insiders for a boycott of this year’s Academy Awards over its lack of diverse acting nominees, one veteran Oscar-winning producer has a message for those critics: “Stop acting like spoiled brats.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning Schindler’s List producer and Academy member Gerald Molen said that the organization that hands out the Oscars is not racist, as critics have charged, and called the growing movement to boycott the ceremony “ridiculous.”
“There is no racism except for those who create an issue,” Molen, who also produced Jurassic Park, Rain Man and Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America, told THR. “That is the worst kind. Using such an ugly way of complaining.”
“Are their noses bent out of shape by the award nominations? Of course. That is normal in a town of egos and red-carpet desires,” the veteran producer went on. “While there were many performances of note, not all my choices for ‘best’ in the various categories have been realized.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has faced mounting criticism since it announced this year’s Oscar nominations last week; all 20 top acting nods went to white actors. Critics have charged that minority-led films like Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Creed and Concussion deserved to have their actors’ performances recognized by the Academy.
Molen told THR that Will Smith’s performance in Concussion might have been nominated.
“But even then it is not like he has been ignored or overlooked in the past,” the producer said. “I understand his disappointment but see no prejudice or racism in his not making it. Who knows, maybe he lost by one vote.”
“I say to all my co-members: Stop acting like spoiled brats,” Molen added. “Look to the next awards show for recognition — if you deserve it.”
Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith have pledged to boycott the ceremony, as have filmmakers Spike Lee and Michael Moore and the rapper Snoop Dogg. The Rev. Al Sharpton has called for Americans nationwide to “tune out” of the February 28 broadcast in protest.
Molen reserved his sharpest criticism for Moore and Lee: “As far as Michael Moore is concerned, he is a socialist always looking to insert his brand of racist hatred. Spike Lee – haven’t I heard this from him before?”
Molen joins at least two other Hollywood heavyweights who have defended the Academy in the wake of the backlash.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4, two-time Oscar-winner Michael Caine said the quality of a particular actor’s performance is paramount when considering whether to honor that actor with a nomination.
“You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black,” the six-time Oscar nominee said. “You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.’ You have to give a good performance.”
Boyz ‘N The Hood director John Singleton, who became the first African-American to be nominated for a directing award in 1991, called the Academy’s nominating process “subjective” and compared earning a nomination to winning the lottery.
“It’s like every year people complain,” Singleton told Variety. “People even complain even when we have a lot of nominations. It is what is is. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You never know – it’s the luck of the draw for you. To me, I’m not surprised. I’m not disappointed either, as much as other people are disappointed. There’s a whole elevation of work that happens.”