Stephen King has come under fire after saying the issue of diversity should not be a factor for Oscar voters.
The author, who nominates in three categories for the Academy Awards, said in a tweet that “only quality” matters.
His comments came after the Oscar nominations announcement on Monday, which revealed that only one non-white performer – British star Cynthia Erivo, for Harriet – was nominated in the acting categories.
And once again, the best director category featured an all-male line-up.
King’s comments have been criticised on social media, including by director Ava DuVernay and writer Roxane Gay.
In his tweet, King wrote: “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…
“I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
Selma and When They See Us director DuVernay reposted the tweet and said: “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.”
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.
— Gabino Iglesias (@Gabino_Iglesias) January 14, 2020
In a reply to King’s post, Difficult Women and Bad Feminist writer Gay said: “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.”
King later added: “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.
“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”
The Oscar nominations on Monday narrowly avoided a repeat of 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, when no actors of colour were nominated in either the leading or supporting categories.
However, this year’s shortlists have the least diverse line-up since the backlash in 2016, after which the film academy diversified its membership.
High profile potential contenders to miss out on nods included Us actress Lupita Nyong’o and The Farewell’s Awkwafina, as well as Just Mercy star Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy in Dolemite Is My Name.