Stephen King has come under fire for the “backward and ignorant” comments he made while addressing the lack of diversity in the 2020 Oscars nominations.
The nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced on Monday, with the organization facing backlash for its lack of representation for women and people of colour. No women were nominated in the Best Director category, despite Greta Gerwig being hotly tipped, and Cynthia Erivo was the only non-white nominee being given a nod in the Best Actress category for her role in Harriet.
Taking to Twitter, King, who is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, shared his views on the issue, explaining: “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.”
Attempting to clarify his remarks, the It creator, 72, continued: “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, colour, 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.”
The writer’s comments weren’t well received by fans, with Selma director Ava DuVernay among those to share her thoughts online.
“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,” she captioned a retweet of King’s original post.
Writer Roxane Gay added, “As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous,” while fellow author Laura Lippman went on to say: “With all due respect, I’m afraid that a meritocracy could work only if the game weren’t rigged.”
King has yet to respond to the backlash.