Ben Carson On #OscarsSoWhite: Representation Is Important, But The Oscars Aren't

| by Robert Fowler
Presidential candidate Ben CarsonPresidential candidate Ben Carson

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is not too concerned about the Academy Awards’ lack of representation for racial minorities. The retired neurosurgeon wrote that “Americans have far more important concerns.”

The Oscars have come under heavy criticism after failing to nominate a single actor of color from 2015. This was the second year in a row that every acting nominee was Caucasian.

The snubbing of actors of color brought back the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite with renewed outrage.

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are among the high-profile Hollywood players who have said that they will boycott this year’s Oscars ceremony, saying that they will no longer tolerate the exclusion of racial minorities.

Carson penned a letter to The Hollywood Reporter on Jan. 19 to give his take on the controversy.

"I’ve said often that diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths," Carson wrote. "Americans from all walks of life have riveting and important stories to tell, and Hollywood could do a better job of honoring all of these stories, regardless of who tells them or the ideology they represent."

However, the retired surgeon then reasoned that he’s not too keen on the ceremony to begin with.

“But at the end of the day, the American people have far more important concerns than a few Hollywood elites handing themselves awards,” Carson continued. “If we paid as much attention to growing the economy as we do to the extravagant, more than $30 million Oscar party the glitterati throw for themselves, we might have fewer families wondering how they’re going to make ends meet.”

The presidential candidate concluded that he had more pressing things to worry about.

"So I’m not terribly concerned about Hollywood’s image," he wrote. "I’m worried about creating a more vibrant America to provide a better future for our children and grandchildren."

While Carson has dismissed the controversy, Hollywood’s unofficial president has given his two cents. George Clooney weighed in on the Oscars and concluded that the nominations are a reflection of a lack of opportunity for diverse talent in Hollywood.

“You feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction,” Clooney told Variety. “There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”

Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, pledged to “conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity,” The Hill reports.  

Sources: The Hill, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, John Pemble/Flickr