Stephen King Was Called “Backward And Ignorant” After He Gave His Opinion On The Oscar Nominations

Stephen King Was Called “Backward And Ignorant” After He Gave His Opinion On The Oscar Nominations

Stephen King has landed himself in hot water after giving his opinion on the recent Oscar nominations, tweeting: “I would never consider diversity in matters of art.”


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On Monday, the Academy revealed the 2020 Oscar nominations ahead of the award ceremony in February. However, the list was met with wide-spread criticism for its lack of diverstiy.


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In the four acting categories, only one person of colour — Cynthia Erivo — was nominated. And, somehow, things only got worse when no women were given a nod in the Best Director field despite a strong push for Little Women‘s Greta Gerwig.


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Other women who had been eligible for a best director nomination included Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Lulu Wang for The Farewell, Melina Matsoukas for Queen & Slim, and Lorene Scafaria for Hustlers.

Actors such as Jennifer Lopez and Lupita Nyong’o, as well Beyoncé for Best Original song, were also snubbed.

Enter Stephen King, who decided earlier this week to offer his opinion on the backlash against the nominations. He revealed that, as a writer, he’s allowed to nominate movies in three categories, but that the subject of diversity “did not come up”.

As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue--as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway--did not come up. That said...

As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue–as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway–did not come up. That said…

He then followed it up with a second tweet that said he would “never consider diversity in matters of art” and instead favours quality.

...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.

…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.

Hours later, after seemingly catching wind of the growing backlash to his original tweets, Stephen posted a follow-up. He wrote: “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation.”

The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.

The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.

He concluded: “You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

Well, Stephen’s stance opened up the floodgates, with people quick to offer criticism in response to his comments. Many took issue with Stephen seemingly pitting diversity and quality against each other.

@StephenKing As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.

@StephenKing As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.

@StephenKing To imply quality and diversity are mutually exclusive tells us quite loudly how threatened you are by the potential of a level artistic playing field in which said ‘diverse’ stories are exponentially more compelling, vast, resonant, poignant than your own...

@StephenKing To imply quality and diversity are mutually exclusive tells us quite loudly how threatened you are by the potential of a level artistic playing field in which said ‘diverse’ stories are exponentially more compelling, vast, resonant, poignant than your own…

Others noted Stephen’s privileged position as a white male, pointing out that underrepresented voices often have to work a lot harder just to get on a level playing field.

@StephenKing Every writer of color reading this, including me, has had to work ten times harder to get the same recognition/opportunities straight white male authors get from the start. Same goes for women, LGBTQIA writers, & other underrepresented voices. Diversity matters. It matters a lot.

@StephenKing Every writer of color reading this, including me, has had to work ten times harder to get the same recognition/opportunities straight white male authors get from the start. Same goes for women, LGBTQIA writers, & other underrepresented voices. Diversity matters. It matters a lot.

@StephenKing With the utmost respect, I think this is quite a bit unfair. When films created by people of color, irrespective of quality, constantly get overlooked by institutions that are predominately comprised of white men, there is an implicit bias at work here.

@StephenKing With the utmost respect, I think this is quite a bit unfair. When films created by people of color, irrespective of quality, constantly get overlooked by institutions that are predominately comprised of white men, there is an implicit bias at work here.

@StephenKing When “quality” is actually subjective and a construct upheld by whiteness, then diversity is definitely needed. You wouldn’t “consider” this because that’s literally what white privilege gifts you.

@StephenKing When “quality” is actually subjective and a construct upheld by whiteness, then diversity is definitely needed. You wouldn’t “consider” this because that’s literally what white privilege gifts you.

Writer and director Ava DuVernay also got involved, calling Stephen’s tweets “backward and ignorant”.

When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb

When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb

Stephen appeared to try to and make peace with Ava by praising her work for When They See Us, but she quickly responded that this was a different conversation.

@StephenKing @JanetMaslin Loved THE SHINING, CARRIE, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (RITA), STAND BY ME (THE BODY). 

But this is a different conversation.

@StephenKing @JanetMaslin Loved THE SHINING, CARRIE, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (RITA), STAND BY ME (THE BODY).

But this is a different conversation.

BuzzFeed has reached out to reps of Stephen King for comment.

Ben Henry is a celebrity reporter for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Ben Henry at ben.henry@buzzfeed.com.

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