Author Stephen King wrote in a Washington Post editorial on Monday that the Academy Awards are “rigged in favor of white folks” and that the Oscars still have a lot of work to do in terms of ensuring diversity among its voter ranks.
King’s op-ed essay represents a retreat as well as an act of contrition following the public backlash the author received earlier this month when he tweeted that quality is more important than diversity when it comes to creating works of art.
…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
His tweet earned him a social media lashing from prominent cultural figures including filmmaker Ava DuVernay and New York Times contributor Roxane Gay.
On Monday, King noted in the Post that women now account for 32 percent of Academy membership, up from 23 percent eight years ago. Ethnic minorities now make up 16 percent, versus 6 percent eight years ago.
“Not good enough. Not even within shouting distance of good enough,” he wrote.
Later in the essay, King noted that, “judgements of creative excellence should be blind. But that would be the case in a perfect world, one where the game isn’t rigged in favor of the white folks.”
Still, King cautioned against evaluating works of art based on diversity and other criteria that aren’t related to artistic quality.
“Judging anyone’s work by any other standard [besides excellence] is insulting and — worse — it undermines those hard-won moments when excellence from a diverse source is rewarded (against, it seems, all the odds) by leaving such recognition vulnerable to being dismissed as politically correct,” he wrote.
The author also refused to apologize for being white, male, and old. “The first two traits are genetic, and the last two are the work of Time the Avenger.”
King said his original tweet wasn’t meant to be controversial.
“Discussions of arts and culture, like discussions of politics, have become increasingly acrimonious and polarized in recent years,” he wrote.
“Lines of belief are drawn with indelible ink, and if you step over them — wittingly or otherwise — you find yourself in the social-media version of the stocks and subject to a barrage of electronic turnips and cabbages.”